Trustworthy Decision Makers

Recently I was speaking with clients and was disturbed as they discussed their lack of trust in their son in making their financial decisions for them in the future. They told me that they “couldn’t trust him” but that they didn’t really have any other options.

I understand that the decision about who will be appointed to make decisions for you in your stead is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. I also understand that having to make this decision is sometimes the thing that stops people from doing their estate planning. However, if you don’t make the decision you really ARE making a decision. You are making the decision not to decide. The decision you are making is that you will let the courts decide for you. You are also making the decision that you and your estate are willing to pay the court or the government what I consider exorbitant fees and costs for the privilege of making these decisions for you. And sometimes, frankly, they don’t make the best decisions due to lack of time, information and resources.

I think you should always “trust your gut.” You know your family and friends best. If you have any concerns about the decisions they would make for you–DON’T make them a decision-maker. Your intuition is probably right. Your assignment of ‘decision-making ability’ to someone you don’t truly trust will most likely only create additional problems down the line when they are acting for you and making decisions for you.

If you do not have family member you can “trust,” you should consider working with a friend, a corporate fiduciary or a licensed fiduciary as your decision-maker. In Arizona, the Supreme Court of Arizona licenses and requires bonding of certain professionals to take on decision-making authority for individual they are not related to. There are some highly talented and skilled licensed fiduciaries in our state. It is important to weigh all of these options while you are still able-bodied so that you can introduce yourself to your decision-maker and they can become familiar with you. This introduction and relationship is vital so that they can collect as much information as possible in order to make decisions for you as you would like them to be made.

We are happy to discuss any matters regarding the above and are happy to make some referrals to professionals willing to serve in this capacity for individuals in our state.

—Attorney Lora Johnson