November 28, 2023

Choosing a Personal Representative in Estate Planning

Choosing a Personal Representative (sometimes referred to as an executor) for your estate is an important decision that requires careful consideration. This chosen individual plays a vital role in managing your estate. 

Therefore, you’ll want to choose someone you trust and someone who is capable of handling the responsibilities that come with the responsibility.

In this article, we’ll provide tips on what to look for in a Personal Representative, but first, let’s review what this role entails.

What Is the Role of a Personal Representative

A Personal Representative, named in a person’s will, manages the deceased’s estate, ensuring their wishes are carried out.

The person’s responsibilities typically involve:

  • Managing the estate’s assets
  • Paying any outstanding debts or taxes
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will

This person may also be responsible for filing the deceased person’s final tax return and handling any other legal or financial matters related to the estate. 

In some cases, a may also be referred to as a personal representative or administrator.

Who Qualifies for this Role?

To become a Personal Representative of an estate, you typically need to be at least 18 years old and not have a criminal record.

Additionally, having a strong understanding of financial matters can be beneficial, as the person you choose will be required to manage your assets and debts. 

It’s also helpful to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as executors need to interact with beneficiaries, lawyers, and financial advisors. 

Finally, a person must be able to handle the emotional stress of managing an estate, as he or she is responsible for overseeing the deceased’s final affairs and settling any disputes that may arise among family members.

Choosing a Personal Representative: 5 Characteristics to Look For

When choosing someone for this important responsibility, you’ll need to focus  trustworthy, reliable, and equipped to handle the management of your estate. 

Let’s review a few other essential considerations.

  1. Trustworthiness

When selecting a Personal Representative, trustworthiness is the most crucial factor. Remember, this person will have access to sensitive information and assets, making it essential to choose someone who won’t take advantage of their position.

  1. Financial Experience

Your Personal Representative will be managing your finances and assets after your passing. Therefore, you want to choose someone with a strong financial background who is well-versed in tax laws, investment strategies, and other financial matters related to estate management.

  1. Communication Skills

You want someone who can communicate with beneficiaries, lawyers, and financial advisors, so having strong communication skills can benefit them and you. 

This person should be able to explain complex financial matters in plain language and handle disagreements or conflicts that may arise. 

  1. Availability

Your chosen Personal Representative must also have sufficient availability to handle the responsibilities that come with estate management. They should possess the flexibility and time required to manage the administrative tasks properly.

  1. Legal and Ethical Knowledge

Finally, you want someone who understands the legal and ethical aspects of managing an estate, follow the instructions stated in the will and comply with legal and ethical obligations.

Can an Attorney Be a Personal Representative?

Yes, an attorney can be named as a Personal Representative of an estate, and in some cases, it may be advisable to do so. 

An experienced attorney can provide valuable legal guidance and advice throughout the estate administration process, helping to ensure that everything is handled correctly and according to the wishes of the deceased. 

However, like the characteristics mentioned above, your attorney needs to be trustworthy, experienced, and have a strong understanding of estate planning and probate law

Our Law Firm Can Help!

If you need assistance with estate planning or selecting a personal representative, contact KTF Law Firm today. Our experienced estate planning attorneys are here to help you navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your passing.

Schedule your free consultation!

Young woman choosing a personal representative for her estate plan.
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