What Role Does A Personal Representative Play In Probate?
Generally, the point of creating a last will and testament, and of estate planning in general, is to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death and that your estate and loved ones are cared for in accordance with the guidelines that you have established. Of course, you are not around to ensure that this happens. That’s where a personal representative comes in.
What is a Personal Representative?
A personal representative is the individual responsible for carrying out your wishes and affairs and administering your will after your death. This is a tall order and is more complicated than it may sound at first. Your personal representative is tasked with taking the lead on funeral arrangements, reviewing your will to identify and notify all named beneficiaries, and settling your estate. Settling your estate involves not only identifying, locating, and valuing all assets named in your will and to your name, but also determining any liens or debts that you owe and settling them before distributions can be made to your beneficiaries. Your personal representative is also responsible for paying any taxes on your estate.
How Do I Choose a Personal Representative?
Your personal representative should be someone highly trustworthy and with good organizational skills. Generally, people choose to appoint a close friend or family member. It’s important to note that while the personal representative has many important duties, they do not have to be an expert in law, finance, or taxes. Your personal representative will cooperate with a number of professionals, including accountants and lawyers in order to ensure that your estate is properly settled and distributed, so while legal or accounting knowledge is an asset, it is not required. The personal representative’s primary responsibility will be making sure that all necessary tasks are taken care of correctly and in a timely manner. You can appoint your personal representative in your will. You should also discuss it with them prior, in order to ensure that they are willing to take on the responsibility, as it usually requires a significant amount of time and effort over a short period of time, and not everyone has the ability to drop everything and focus on that. If you do not name a personal representative in your will, the court may appoint one. However, most people choose to select their own. It’s also important to make sure that your appointed personal representative is kept up to date. For instance, if you appointed your ex-spouse when you were married, you may want to revise your will to appoint a new representative now that you are divorced.
Is a Personal Representative Paid?
Serving as a personal representative requires significant time, effort, and responsibility, so personal representatives are compensated. You do not have to worry about paying them though, they will be paid a reasonable rate for their services which will come out of your estate prior to its distribution.
Talk to Larry E. Bray
If you are ready to plan your estate, have questions about the estate planning process, or would like some professional guidance, it’s time to contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray. Larry Bray can assist you with all of your estate planning needs. Contact West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer Larry Bray today to schedule a consultation.