An important part of estate planning is determining who will be in charge of carrying out someone's wishes. In addition to having an executor of their will, people may also want to appoint a trusted individual as an agent under a power of attorney. Depending on how they are set up, a power of attorney may allow someone to make financial decisions for an individual or determine how that person should be cared for when they cannot make their own medical choices.
Since it is essential that an executor or agent under a power of attorney be both trusted and understand someone's wishes, it may be in someone's best interest to choose their spouse for these roles. Even if a spouse was not normally the decision maker during a marriage, this individual is likely to be the most knowledgeable about the person's wishes.
Assigning a spouse as an executor may also help reduce arguments among family members based on how assets are divided after the testator's death. However, if an individual had children from two different spouses, having an impartial third party handle these matters may help to avoid perceptions of favoritism. Additionally, it is important that someone being assigned these roles is in a mental and physical state to fulfill them.
Estate planning strategies include more than just what happens with someone's possessions when they pass on. It also deals with how an individual's affairs should be handled when they are unable to make decisions for themselves, either due to a medical issue or being out of the country. A lawyer who has experience with these matters can explain to a client what documents may be appropriate for their particular goals and needs.