There may be no one you trust more than your spouse and your kids. These people know you better than anyone and understand you; they may have seen you at your worst and your best. They probably know what you want and can even anticipate your needs.

But are these the best people to make estate planning decisions on your behalf?

Benefits of naming loved ones

Your estate plan should lay out what you want in terms of end-of-life planning and asset distribution upon death. However, questions can arise that you would not be able to answer, and someone will need to make decisions on your behalf.

Naming someone you love and trust as a trustee or representative can give you peace of mind in knowing that he or she will make decisions in line with what you would have wanted. This person can also appreciate the importance of making good decisions because they likely know the people affected by these decisions.

Drawbacks to consider

While there are benefits to naming a spouse or child as a trustee or representative, there are also disadvantages to consider.

For instance, as a recent New York Times article points out, naming a child (or other loved one) as a trustee puts that person in a potentially uncomfortable position. He or she may not want to control siblings’ finances or be the person who has to make difficult financial decisions. And any missteps this person might make could lead to messy lawsuits and destroyed relationships.

While it may seem easiest to put a loved one in this role, it could create a personal, legal and financial burden. 

Discussing your options with an attorney

Creating an estate plan that protects your wishes without placing a significant burden on your loved ones can seem like an impossible task. However, you can discuss the various options you have to achieve this goal with an experienced attorney. Consulting a legal professional can help you thoroughly examine your choices and pursue solutions you may not have otherwise considered.