Why You Need to Make the Right Choices for the Personal Representative of Your Estate
Seniors, parents, and anyone with substantial assets need to plan how their estate will be handled when they pass away. Proper preparation can make sure that your assets are preserved, as much as possible, for your family, loved ones, and others who you cherish. Carefully crafted wills and trusts can save on taxes, minimize payments to creditors, provide for children with special needs, and address other financial and human concerns. Properly drafted powers of attorneys and medical directives can mean that someone you trust handles your affairs and not a bureaucrat in some state office.
Our highly respected estate planning lawyers at Yaser Ali Law help Arizonans understand the reasons for choosing a personal representative and what factors should be considered. A personal representative should be more than someone you trust. It should be someone who can carry out your wishes and manage your affairs. It should be someone or some entity that can act independently and won’t be unduly pressured by beneficiaries or outsiders. The personal representative is a fiduciary who owes a duty to you to exercise the best possible judgment on your behalf and on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Types of estate documents that require a personal representative, trustee, or agent
Personal representatives are often chosen to handle your financial affairs. Others may be chosen to handle the affairs of a child if you die or become incapacitated. In some cases, the court may appoint a relative or a public entity to act for you or a child if you become incapacitated. Some of the documents where you can appoint your own personal representative are:
- In your will, you should appoint an executor who will collect and manage your assets; properly notify the public, creditors, and heirs; pay the appropriate taxes and debts, and distribute the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.
- Trusts are a method of disposing of some of your assets in advance or dictating what should happen to those assets if you die or can’t manage your affairs. The trust document will appoint a trustee to manage the trust according to the terms of the trust. There are many different types of trusts such as revocable living trusts, testamentary trusts, pourover trusts, ad spendthrift trusts – to name just a few.
- This is someone you appoint to raise your child in the event of your death.
- Representatives who will handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. A durable power of an attorney is an example.
- Representatives who will make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. A health proxy is an example.
There are other documents that require the appointment of a fiduciary such as powers of attorney. The personal representative may even decide, depending on your will and other estate documents, whether you’re cremated, if your organs are donated, or whether an autopsy should be approved.
If you don’t properly appoint these personal representatives, then relatives and organizations may petition to the court to be your personal representative or a conservator of your financial affairs.
Factors in choosing the right Representative.
You get to decide who the personal representative should be instead of the state.
Our Tempe estate lawyers review the following practical and legal mattes with anyone who is doing estate planning or elder care planning:
- The willingness of the personal representative. It’s a good idea to check with relatives, non-relatives, and organizations before you choose someone to see if they want to handle your affairs, help you if you become ill, or help your children. In addition to speaking to the potential representatives while you’re alive, we also recommend that you consider alternative executors, trustees, and representatives.
- The location of the personal representative. Even in the age of the Internet, your personal representative will often need to speak with people directly, open accounts in local banks, go to the local courthouse, and inspect local property.
- The representatives should be adults who understand personal and financial matters. They should be able to handle any conflicts. They should be able to work with experienced Tempe estate and elder law attorneys.
The personal representative should be someone who you think knows and will respect your desires – and someone who will honor your will. The representative should be trustworthy. Generally, the personal representative shouldn’t be a beneficiary because that can create a conflict of interest.
Most times, the representative you choose will be a spouse, an adult child, or a relative. The representative can also be a friend, a co-worker, or any adult you designated. In many cases, the personable representative doesn’t have to be a human. Banks and certain public and private organizations can be appointed personal representatives. Attorneys may be able to serve as a representative of financial or health affairs. Banks and other independent entities may want a higher fee though.
There are some practical considerations. If your children don’t get along, you need to be extra careful in choosing the adult children representatives. Choosing a non-child may be better. If you’re choosing multiple executors, for example, it may be wise to appoint an odd number instead of an even one. If you have a business, then someone who knows about the business should be considered – especially if the business can provide a good income for your family after you die or become disabled.
Understand your rights and options regarding choosing executors, trustees, and other personal representatives.
Our Tempe Arizona lawyers consider options that minimize how much work the personal representative has to do such as retitling assets so they are directly payable to a beneficiary on death. We help residents understand the skills need for each type of authority. At Yaser Ali Law, we have advised many individuals about how to pick personal representatives who will maximize estate accounts and provide for family members. To speak with an experienced estate and probate lawyer, please phone us at (480)-442-4175 or complete the contact form to schedule an appointment.