Who do I name in my estate planning documents?

The hardest decision for some (once they’ve decided to do their estate planning) is who to name in the documents to make decisions.

  • Who do you want to name as the personal representative (also commonly referred to as the “executor”) of your estate – the person that handles your estate after you die?
  • If you become incapacitated, who do you want making financial decisions for you (your agent under your durable power of attorney) or your health care decisions (a health care surrogate)?

While this does not have to be the same person for all three positions, it should be someone you trust.

The person who serves as your agent under the durable power of attorney will have the power to close bank accounts, change a beneficiary designation, essentially, step into your shoes and do whatever you can do with your finances.  So, this person or persons should not only be someone that you trust, but someone who can handle finances.

Your health care surrogate should be someone who knows what you want from a health care perspective.  For instance, do you want to be kept alive by artificial means if you are in a persistent vegetative state?  Do you want antibiotics?  Do you want blood transfusions?  Finally, it is a good idea to list more than one person, a back-up to the first person, just in case your first choice is unable to serve.


Laurie Ohall is a board certified Elder Law attorney with license to practice in both Florida and Ohio.  For more information about planning documents, please contact the Brandon, FL Estate Planning Offices of Laurie Ohall today.