If you’re working on your estate plan, one of the most important steps is determining who will be the Personal Representative (Executor) of your estate. It’s an important choice – maybe you’ve read stories of some Personal Representatives behaving badly and wish to avoid that. You don’t want to make a mistake that would cause your loved ones avoidable stress or pain after you pass away.
In this post, we’ll provide all the key details about Personal Representatives, what their role is, and what you need to know to get everything right.
What Is an Personal Representative?
An Personal Representative (also called an estate administrator, or simply administrator) is a person who is appointed by a will to administer the estate of the deceased. The Personal Representative’s responsibilities include making sure that all of the deceased person’s assets are accounted for and transferred to the appropriate people, as well as paying any outstanding debts.
The Personal Representative is also responsible for filing the necessary paperwork with the court and dealing with any disputes that may arise. In Florida, the executor is called a Personal Representative, and if there is no will, the Florida court will appoint one to carry out these duties.
How Do I Choose a Personal Representative?
The process of choosing a Personal Representative can be difficult, but if you know what to look out for, then it becomes much more simple. The things to consider include:
1. The Personal Representative‘s qualifications: When choosing a Personal Representative, it is important to consider the individual’s qualifications. This is because the Personal Representative is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will and ensuring that the estate is properly managed. The Personal Representative should be qualified and mentally fit enough to be able to handle financial and legal matters, and must be able to work with other professionals such as accountants and lawyers. The Personal Representative must also be able to handle difficult conversations with family members and other interested parties.
2. The Personal Representative‘s relationship to you: When choosing a Personal Representative, it is important to consider the relationship of the potential Personal Representative with you. The Personal Representative will have a lot of responsibility in carrying out the wishes of the deceased, so it is important that they are someone who you can trust and are comfortable with. While trusted close relatives are often chosen, if a close trusted relative is unavailable, the next best option may be a friend or trusted advisor of yours. You may also choose to go with an attorney or a Personal Representative at a law firm. It’s an important choice to make, because if you choose someone who is not trustworthy, they may not be as motivated to carry out your wishes faithfully.
3. The Personal Representative‘s location: The Personal Representative’s location is important when choosing an Personal Representative because, as noted, the Personal Representative will be responsible for carrying out the terms of your will. If the Personal Representative lives in another state, it may be more difficult for them to carry out their duties. Given this distance hurdle, if the Personal Representative lives in a different state than you, they may not be able to carry out your wishes properly. Additionally, if something happens to the Personal Representative and they are unable to finish their duties, the will may need to be probated, which can be costly and time-consuming.
4. The Personal Representative’s availability: Even with someone who is in close proximity, it is important to consider the Personal Representative’s availability to you. If the Personal Representative is unavailable or unable to handle the duties of executorship, it could delay or prevent the estate from being settled properly. This could create a lot of problems down the road. So, you want to choose someone who is available and willing to take on this responsibility.
Why Choosing The Right Personal Representative Is Crucial
If you die without a will in Florida, the state will distribute your assets according to a complex set of laws known as the “Florida intestate succession” law. This law dictates who will inherit your property, and in what order they will inherit it. If you have a spouse, children, or other close relatives, they will likely receive some or all of your assets. But if you have no close relatives, your assets may end up going to complete strangers.
As such, when making a will, choosing a Personal Representative is crucial. Don’t forget that the Personal Representative is must be able to handle complex financial and legal matters, and have the time and resources to deal with inheritances, taxes, and other administrative tasks. Also, remember to choose a Personal Representative who you trust and who is capable of handling this responsibility.
The Jakob Legal Team Can Help
If you or someone close to you has questions about choosing a Personal Representative for your will, Andrea Jakob and the JakobLegal team are here and ready to help with any questions you may have. Contact us today so we can begin helping you protect your future and that of your loved ones.