The Personal Representative, or Executor, is the individual who manages your property after you die. If you die without a Will, the Court appoints someone to administer your estate, often a spouse, child, or third-party administrator. Otherwise, you can decide in your Will who will serve as the Personal Representative of your estate. This person will pay your debts and make sure your assets are disposed of in a legal, efficient, and thoughtful manner. Some of the duties of a Personal Representative can include:
Guiding your Will through probate to verify it is accepted as valid. This would include defending the Will against any contests.
Collecting your assets.
Ensuring that the correct gifts are made to the right beneficiaries, such as the title transfer for your house.
Reviewing and evaluating any claims against your estate.
Selling assets to pay any valid claims.
Preparing and filing an accounting of all financial transactions with the court.
Distributing assets necessary to support your minor children, disabled relative, or aging parents.
Therefore, choosing someone to serve as your Personal Representative is very important.
The person you choose as Personal Representative needs to understand what is involved in fulfilling that role. He/she should be someone that you trust and that has integrity. You should consider your relationship with the individual and choose someone who knows you well enough personally and professionally to know how you would want things handled.
You may also want to consider how well this person gets along with your family and how practical he/she tends to be. You want to choose someone who will be realistic and seek help when he/she needs it. You may want to avoid naming a Personal Representative with a conflict of interest because he/she may decide things that benefit others and harm your family. It might be good to consider his/her asset management skills with real estate and financial markets.
Choosing a Personal Representative of your estate is a highly personal and important decision. The above considerations can help you make the best decision for you and those you leave after you die.