Choosing the Right Personal Representative for Your Will
Oct 18, 2023
By Matthew A. Ferri, Esq. A will ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. An often overlooked but critical decision is selecting the right Personal Representative. Your Personal Representative is responsible for administering your estate, handling financial matters, and ensuring your instructions are followed. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of choosing the right Personal Representative for your will.
Who is a Personal Representative?
A Personal Representative, also known as an executor or administrator, is an individual or institution appointed to manage and settle your estate after you pass. Their primary responsibilities include:
Probate: Initiating the probate process, if required, to validate the will and carry out its instructions.
Asset Management: Managing and safeguarding your assets that are subject to the probate process, which may include real estate, investments, and personal property.
Debts and Taxes: Identifying and paying your outstanding debts and taxes from the estate’s assets. This also includes filing your final tax return.
Distribution: Distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs according to your will.
Lawsuits: Managing lawsuits and disputes, in the event of your death due to accident or malpractice. This may also include disputes with beneficiaries.
Qualities of a Good Personal Representative
Selecting the right person to represent your estate in probate is crucial. This individual or institution will play a pivotal role in the execution of your will. Here are some key qualities to consider:
Trustworthiness: Above all else, your Personal Representative must be someone you trust implicitly. They will have access to sensitive financial and personal information. Therefore, their honesty and integrity are paramount.
Organization: The person you appointed will handle a multitude of tasks, from financial matters to legal paperwork. Therefore, being well-organized is essential to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Financial Acumen: A Personal Representative should have a good understanding of financial matters. They may need to manage investments, pay bills, and distribute assets, which requires some level of financial literacy. In the alternative, they should be willing to work with appropriate professionals to ensure your estate is managed properly.
Availability: The role of a Personal Representative can be time-consuming. Therefore, important that the person you have chosen has the time and availability to fulfill their duties, as the process may take several months or longer.
Maturity: Dealing with all these issues, especially while grieving, requires a certain level of maturity. As a result, selecting your 18- or 19-year-old children or grandchildren, is normally not a good idea. Even older children may not be a good choice, if you think they will not be able to cope with the grieving process and the legal process at the same time.
Discussing Your Wishes
Before making your selection, discuss your choice with the prospective Personal Representative to ensure they are willing to accept the responsibility. Then, periodically review your choice of Personal Representative to ensure it remains aligned with your wishes and the willingness of the person you selected to fulfill the role.
In conclusion, selecting the right Personal Representative for your will is a crucial decision in your estate planning journey. By choosing someone trustworthy, organized, financially competent, and impartial, you can help ensure that your final wishes are carried out accurately and efficiently. Consult with our legal professionals to make an informed decision that aligns with your unique circumstances and preferences, contact us at 248-409-0256 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.
About the Author
Matthew A. Ferri, J.D., M.B.A., is the Founder and Principal of LifeFocus Planning, a Michigan based estate planning law firm. He is an estate planning attorney with offices in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Shelby Township, Michigan. His expertise includes advanced estate planning, elder law, Medicaid planning, Veterans benefits, special needs planning, and business planning. During law school, Matt focused his studies on business law while simultaneously earning his MBA. Matt started his own firm with the goal of helping individuals and their families develop estate plans that work. He received the rating of AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell: The highest peer rating standard. This signifies that many of his peers rank him at the highest level for professional excellence and legal knowledge.
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