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Characteristics You Should Look for in a Personal Representative

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when drafting your will and creating your estate plan is to appoint a personal representative, sometimes called an “executor,” to handle your estate after you pass away. Personal representatives are responsible for notifying beneficiaries, valuing the estate, and handling creditor claims. Ultimately, personal representatives are tasked with executing your final wishes after you pass away and act as the primary liaison between your family and the probate court. Choosing a personal representative who displays specific characteristics is vital. Below, we discuss the traits your personal representative should have to execute your will effectively:

Responsibility 

This is the most important trait a personal representative should have. Personal representatives are responsible for creating the estate bank account, valuing your possessions, notifying creditors and beneficiaries that the estate has entered probate, filing your final tax return, and distributing your possessions to the beneficiaries listed in your will. Executing an estate can take several months, so choosing a personal representative who can commit to all these responsibilities and the time it takes to complete them is important. You should consider discussing your intentions with the person you wish to select before appointing them as the personal representative in your will. 

Detail Oriented 

Personal representatives must manage financial documents, access various accounts, attend meetings with the probate court, maintain estate property during probate, and relay information to family members. They must also be detail-oriented and able to organize the various documents, tasks, and meetings during probate proceedings. An experienced probate attorney will also help your personal representative organize this information. 

Communicate Well

Personal representatives are the primary liaison between the probate court, beneficiaries, and creditors. They must also attend meetings and hearings in court. When a family member has a question about the probate proceedings, the personal representative will bring the question to the probate court and relay the answer. Personal representatives are also tasked with creating an official notice to creditors in a local publication. There’s no doubt that personal representatives need to be able to communicate effectively with many different people, from lawyers to grieving family members. This is why it’s essential to choose a personal representative who is comfortable conversing in these scenarios.

Financial and Legal-Minded 

Personal representatives maintain the estate’s finances during probate proceedings. They inventory and value your personal belongings, create an assessment, and submit it to the probate court. The funds from bank accounts and any other assets sold or liquidated are placed in an estate bank account, which the personal representative creates and oversees. Personal representatives are legally responsible for acting in your estate’s best interest. Their actions can be challenged in court if a beneficiary believes they are mishandling funds. They are also liable for any mismanagement of the estate. These responsibilities should be handled by someone who understands financial and legal matters to ensure the will is executed correctly. 

Established Relationship with Family

Personal representatives are the primary point of contact between the probate court and your family members. The probate court can’t answer individual questions from your family members, so your personal representative will relay information back and forth. It’s important to choose someone your family is comfortable approaching with questions and concerns throughout the probate process and is generally friendly to most family members. 

Ability to Multitask

One characteristic all personal representatives should have is the ability to handle multiple tasks. While it may appear that being a personal representative is a full-time job, it’s done while the personal representative handles other daily tasks in their life. You’ll need to choose a personal representative who can handle the added responsibilities of their personal life and the tasks of handling your estate. For instance, you’ll want someone who will remember to pay the mortgage on their home and the utility bill for your home until probate proceedings are finalized. 

Estate Planning in Central Florida 

The specific tasks your personal representative is responsible for depend on your individual estate. Your estate planning attorney can review the elements of your estate and help you choose a personal representative to name in your will. Contact our estate planning attorney in Oviedo to start developing your estate plan. 

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