5 factors to consider when choosing a personal representative
As you are putting together your estate plan, it is easy to overlook the small details. One detail that is especially important to address is choosing a personal representative for your estate. Although this may seem like a triviality, your choice could mean the difference between the smooth administration of your estate and having your estate mismanaged or tied up in probate litigation.
In Michigan, the position of personal representative (also known as executor) is an important one, as it involves performing several duties that are vital to the running of the estate, including:
· Locating your will
· Identifying and gathering the assets of your estate
· Notifying your creditors of your death
· Paying all valid bills as well as any taxes due
· Distributing your assets according to the terms of your will
Unfortunately, many people assume that a close family member is ideal for this role. However, when choosing a personal representative, the qualities of the candidate outweigh your close relationship with the person.
Choosing a good personal representative
When deciding on a person to serve as your personal representative, experts recommend that you choose a person with the following qualities:
· Trustworthiness: Obviously, the role of personal representative is one of trust. As a result, it naturally follows that a good candidate would be an honest and trustworthy person that would not favor one heir’s interest (or their own) over another.
· Knowledge: Since the position requires a fair amount of reviewing and understanding bills, taxes and legal documents, a person that has a legal or financial background is especially well suited to the role. If your estate is very large or complex, it may be beneficial to appoint an attorney experienced in estate administration issues to serve as your personal reprehensive, in order to ensure that the special needs and issues of your estate are adequately addressed.
· Conflict Resolution: Personal representatives often encounter adversarial situations in their roles. These situations can be anything from a family member that is angry about the provisions of your estate plan to a creditor that attempts to file a false claim for payment against your estate. As a result, it is helpful if your candidate is able to address these unpleasant situations effectively.
· Proximity: Certain aspects of the role are difficult to perform remotely, so it is especially beneficial to choose a candidate that lives nearby.
· Availability: The role of personal representative requires dealing with a lot of paperwork, which can take a significant amount of time. As a result, a candidate should ideally have a job or lifestyle that would allow them to devote the time needed.
An attorney can help you decide
Virtually all estate planning attorneys have experience dealing with personal representatives, both good ones and bad ones. Because of this, they can be very useful in helping you decide. The experienced attorneys at Prince Law Firm can analyze your estate, explain the probable issues it will face and advise you on the type of person that would be the best fit.