Who you choose to be in charge of your affairs in case of incapacity or death is obviously an important decision with far reaching consequences. Here is a list of qualities to keep in mind when deciding who to leave in charge of your affairs:
- Honesty — this quality needs no further explanation.
- Financial diligence — it is important that bills and expenses are paid on time, and in order of their legal priority.
- Fair mindedness — anyone managing your affairs because you can’t is legally obligated to look after your best interests (if you are alive but incapacitated), and those of your beneficiaries (if you have passed away).
- Task master — Certain tasks must be completed by a predetermined deadline.
- Willingness to acknowledge things they cannot do alone — not only is a successor empowered to hire professionals like attorneys and accountants, the law requires a successor to get help for things they don’t know how to do on their own.
Of course, the flip side of the coin is to keep in mind qualities that a successor should not possess. There is an old saying, widely attributed to 19th Century orator Robert G. Ingersoll: “Nothing discloses real character like the use of power.” We all know people who let a little power go to their heads. In selecting successors, if you do nothing else, be sure to avoid selecting a successor who may get carried away with “being in charge” of your affairs.