Three Options If You Do Not Want To Hurt Feelings

One concern clients often have is they do not want a child to feel second best or that they favored one child over the other when naming a child as a fiduciary.  So, what is one to do? 

Option 1: Name all children indicating they must act jointly with unanimity.  This accomplishes the objective but it creates administrative difficulties.  It’s more cumbersome when administering an estate or exercising authority under a power of attorney when two people need to agree.  Of course, it is also necessary to consider naming a person who can cast the deciding vote in case of disagreement.

Option 2: Name the children in terms of age oldest to youngest and indicate it was the lawyer’s idea.

Option 3: Husband names spouse as backup and then names child 1 as first alternate backup fiduciary, with child 2 as successor alternate fiduciary.  Wife names husband as backup and then names child 2 as alternate backup fiduciary, with child 1 as successor alternate fiduciary.  When we say fiduciary we are talking about the roles of (1) Agent under a “Power of Attorney”, (2) Personal Representative under a Will, and (3) Trustee under a Trust Agreement. 

Please know, there are many other possible scenarios and solutions, but the above can give you an idea of some solutions to the concern of naming one child and not another as a fiduciary.

Contributed by

Mark F. Winn, J.D., LL.M. is a local tax and estate planning attorney