One of the steps in making a will is sounding out the folks you want to have roles in your estate plan:
The (possible) roles:
- personal representative: (aka the executor of your estate) who has primary legal power and responsibility to wind up your affairs and transfer your assets to your heirs
- heirs: folks who would receive goods or money from your estate. In most cases you don't need to ask in advance if someone wants to be your beneficiary; however, if you have pets it is good manners to ask if someone wants to be the heirs of your pets and take responsibility for them.
- funeral/ wake/ memorial planner: This is not information that would go in your will as such, but most estate planning binders have a section for your funeral plans and if you have a friend / religious organizations/ prepaid funeral who can do this job, it would be one less thing your personal representative would have to manage.
- guardian of minor children: if not the same person as your personal representative. Note that even if you have a spouse, you need a backup guardian.
Always ask before giving someone a role in your estate. It is a heavy load on top of their every-day life and their grief on losing you (think of it like asking someone to take on a part-time job on top of their usual responsibilities). Look for someone who finds the idea of helping you and your loved ones as a gift they can give you and not an onerous duty to take on. Closing out your estate properly can be a way to allow them to say goodbye in love and service.
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