Family Legacy Services

The people involved in your estate plan

The people you'll entrust to carry out your wishes include the trusted individuals who'll implement your plans and the heirs who'll receive your assets.

We're here to help. Talk with your Vanguard team.

Call 800-860-8392

Points to know

  • Among those who'll help you ensure your wishes are carried out are an estate planning attorney and an executor, which can be an individual or an entity such as a law firm.
  • If you have a trust, you'll need at least one trustee to invest and manage the trust's assets, among other responsibilities.
  • When you name beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, keep in mind the rules around how they can inherit the accounts and when they must take required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Key roles in financial matters

Estate planning attorney

You'll need to retain the services of an estate planning attorney who can offer you advice and guidance on your strategies and draw up your estate planning documents.

 

Executor

Your executor (or personal representative) is responsible for gathering your assets upon your death, managing and maintaining those assets, completing the administrative and tax responsibilities of your estate, and distributing assets according to your wishes.

These tasks usually take from 6 to 24 months to complete.

You can name either a person or an entity (like a law firm) as your executor. You'll obviously want to discuss your decision with your chosen executor and make sure they're willing and able to perform all the necessary responsibilities.

 

Trustee

If you have a trust, you'll need to designate at least one trustee.

A trustee is the person or company that holds the legal title to the assets in a trust. A trustee is responsible for investing and managing the trust assets, distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the trust, keeping accurate records, and filing all necessary tax returns.

A trustee can be an individual, such as a family member, or an entity, such as Vanguard National Trust Company.

As you make your choice, keep in mind that administering and managing a trust can be a lot of work. You could consider naming a close family member or friend and a corporate trustee to act as co-trustees, with the corporate trustee taking on much of the administrative burden.

See the trust services offered through Vanguard

 

Successor trustee

If you've created a revocable trust, you can act as trustee during your lifetime, but you'll also need to appoint a successor trustee to assume control of the trust after your death or in the event you become mentally incapacitated.

As with a trustee, a successor trustee can be a person or an entity.

 

Beneficiary

Your beneficiaries are the individuals or entities entitled to receive part or all of the assets in your trusts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and annuities. You'll generally name your beneficiaries when you purchase a policy or open an account.

You can also name beneficiaries on other types of investment accounts through a transfer on death designation.

If it's been a while since you named beneficiaries, you'll want to make sure they still reflect your wishes.

See the impact of naming different types of beneficiaries

 

Durable power of attorney agent

durable power of attorney (POA) agent is an individual who's been granted the ability to handle your financial affairs. Many people appoint an attorney-in-fact to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated.

It's important to discuss this role with the person you select and make sure they're prepared to take on the responsibilities if necessary. Make your wishes known, and choose someone you trust to carry them out.

Key roles in personal matters

Guardian

If you have minor children, designate a guardian or guardians in your will. A guardian is responsible for raising your children to adulthood if both you and the children's other parent are deceased.

As with your executor, be sure your selected guardians understand their potential responsibilities and can handle them.

 

Health care proxy agent

A health care proxy agent is the individual you designate to make decisions about your medical care if you're unable to do so.

Discuss your wishes with the person you select, and make sure you choose someone you trust to follow them.

Learn more about planning for potential incapacitation

Get more from Vanguard

✓ Custom financial plan

✓ Ongoing portfolio management

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✓ All at a low cost

 

Reach your goals with advice from Vanguard

Get more from Vanguard

✓ Custom financial plan

✓ Ongoing portfolio management

✓ Investment coaching

✓ Real-time goal tracking

✓ All at a low cost

 

Reach your goals with advice from Vanguard

Explore more topics

Create a lasting legacy through estate planning

You've worked hard to accumulate your assets. Now make sure they'll go to the people or organizations that mean the most to you.

What are your goals for your wealth?

Estate planning doesn't have to be difficult. Start with a clear purpose, and we'll guide you to a plan that meets your family's needs.

Planning for potential incapacitation

You'll want to plan ahead in case you become unexpectedly incapacitated. Here's how to enable a family member to step in for you.

Vanguard family legacy services

We're here to help. Talk with your Vanguard team.

Call 800-860-8392


View your account or schedule time to talk with your relationship team.

Vanguard family legacy services

We're here to help. Talk with your Vanguard team.

Call 800-860-8392


View your account or schedule time to talk with your relationship team.