How do you find a trustworthy fiduciary to make end of life decisions for you if you’re a solo ager? We get these questions often from our solo ager clients and followers:
“What provisions may be made if someone has no healthcare proxy?“
“When there is no one to take care of you as you age and you become ill, how can you ever find a fiduciary you can trust?”
We’ll review the problem, the lack of options, and if/when we’re able to help.
Solo agers’ problem
This end-of-life fiduciary problem is very similar to the executor problem, but more intimate.
Typically, solo agers do not have the traditional spouse or adult kids to fill the role. Some solo agers don’t want to burden (or are not comfortable asking) more distant relatives or friends to fill the role. An end-of-life fiduciary is not just a money or estate administration role, but rather extremely personal medical role. This means asking someone to make important end-of-life decisions for you and even be present at your death bed.
The bottom line is that you do NOT want a random court-appointed stranger to fill this role. A court-appointed fiduciary wouldn’t know you or your wishes at all.
Not many options
With executors, you have the option of choosing professional executors , as well as banks, trust companies, and in some states, there are certified professional executors. There is a small, but developed industry around professional executorship. But there are far fewer options for someone to be your hired health care proxy/agent.
In the case where a health care agent is hired, it is usually an attorney. This isn’t always a great option either. One of our followers said that she talked to an attorney and didn’t feel comfortable with her because all she talked about was the hourly fee. The attorney quoted over $800.00 just to “sign her up.”
Another said that the attorney “refused to have an initial meeting with me because she’s a ‘busy person’ and I’d have to hire her before she’d see me.”
Obviously, an attorney won’t provide these services for free, but the attorneys can be more tactful about it. For example, when we are asked to serve as a professional executor, we meet with the person to make sure we are a good fit. It’s hard to imagine someone would want name a health care agent without meeting them first.
How (and when) we‘ll be your health care proxy
We do not accept this role capriciously. I won’t do it unless I am your nominated executor/trustee or otherwise known you for at least several years.
Again, I want to make sure we have a good working relationship. This includes annual calls and check-ins (which we have discussed in other episodes). I want to be sure that I have a directional sense of your personality and wishes before I commit to making medical decisions. When the end-of-life period comes, it is a stressful time both for the client and me. I need to feel confident I can faithfully carry out your wishes.
My book, “The Solo Ager Estate Plan,” can help you prepare for end-of-life decisions. Click the link below to receive a free copy.
As always, keep your questions coming!
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