Decisions are made every day by everyone. We are so used to making decisions in our daily lives we often forget to ask the questions, who would make these decisions if we could not?  Who would pay our bills? Who would take care of our children? What legacy would we leave behind?

One of the most important decisions you need to make right now is the selection of a decision maker. The person you will authorize under your California estate planning documents to act for you when you cannot.

How do you know how to choose the best decision maker for you?  We hear this question quite a bit from our clients. To help you, we’ve put together the following questions that we encourage our clients to ask themselves before deciding on a decision maker.

  1. Who is the logical decision maker for you?  Is it your spouse, your child or children?  Could it be your best friend, a distant relative in another state or even a financial institution?
  1. Who am I making this decision for? If you are making your decision on the basis of what other people want or for their agenda, then you may not like the end result. Remember your estate plan is about you. While it can be good to listen to others, at the end of the day, it is totally your decision.
  1. What is the end result? If you are choosing between two seemingly equal decision makers, you should imagine what the end result will be if either person is called upon to act. For instance, where will your decision maker be in ten years? Is he or she always available? Do you share the same values? Sometimes it is easier to make the choice that is easier in the moment, but you need to think about the future as well.
  1. Are you afraid of making this decision and, if so, why? What is stopping you? Do not be hesitant to discuss these fears or concerns you may have with the people you are thinking about choosing with your attorney.
  1. How will the outcome of this decision impact those who are reliant on my estate planning choices, including myself? Before you make final decisions it’s time to talk to your spouse, consider what your children need, and to think about your business’s future. As you consider what everyone and everything needs out of your planning, don’t lose track of how this decision will impact you as well.
  1. Should you take more time to process this? Estate planning takes time. Keep in mind, however, you need this planning in place to provide for you should the unexpected happen. If you find yourself needing more days, or weeks, talk to your estate planning attorney about your concerns and create a timeline together.
  1. What type of estate plan are you choosing decision makers for? This goes back to thinking about now and your future. There are different estate plans you can enter into but you need to be sure the estate plan that you choose will reach your goals now and in the future.  This is a crucial question to discuss with your estate planning attorney as you also choose the right decision makers to support your planning.

Choosing the right decision makers for you and your estate plan is critical. Do not pressure yourself to act on the spot or under the direction of someone else’s goals.  Instead, take time to read these valuable questions and discuss them with your estate planning attorney before making the final decision.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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