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What is a Personal Representative and Do I Need One?

What is a Personal Representative and Do I Need One?

If you have started doing an internet deep-dive into how to create your estate plan, you may have come across the term “personal representative.” So, what is a personal representative and how do you know if you need one? We will cover that here. 

The Role of a Personal Representative in Probate 

After an individual has passed away, someone must take the lead on making funeral arrangements, reviewing the will to identify and notify the beneficiaries, and settle and allocate the estate in accordance with the will. This person tasked with these responsibilities is known as the decedent’s personal representative. In other words, the duty of the personal representative is to carry out the wishes of the decedent. 

Do I Need to Appoint a Personal Representative?

You may appoint a personal representative if you so choose by naming them in your will. The personal representative is often a close personal friend, spouse, or family member, who you can trust to administer your estate as you intended. The responsibilities of the personal representative can be extensive. They are responsible for the management, maintenance, and security of the estate property during the probate process, and must determine the value of all assets of the estate, and settle any debts and liens owed by the decedent. They must also determine any tax liability. If this sounds like it may be too complicated for your friend to handle, do not worry. The personal representative is really just responsible for making sure that all of this happens in a timely manner. They often work closely with attorneys, accountants, and tax professionals who actually do the heavy lifting. For this reason, someone who is organized, trustworthy, and good at task management is more important than ensuring they have extensive legal and accounting knowledge (although that would certainly be a plus!). It should also be noted that not everyone qualifies to be a personal representative. Minors (those under the age of 18) do not meet the qualifications to serve. In most cases, convicted felons also cannot fulfill this role. If you wish to appoint a bank or trust company as your personal representative, it’s important to ensure that they have fiduciary duties in your state. Otherwise, they will not qualify. If you do not appoint a personal representative, do not worry. The probate court can appoint one, although most people prefer to choose their own. 

Do I Have to Pay a Personal Representative? 

Because the role of personal representative does require a significant amount of time and effort, personal representatives do generally receive compensation. This compensation is paid out of the estate before the assets are distributed so it is not something that you have to worry about. 

Schedule a Consultation with the SG Law Firm

If you are ready to create an estate plan that meets all of your needs, or you have questions about the estate planning or probate process, the experienced estate planning attorneys at Miami, Florida’s SG Law Firm are ready to help. Contact us today and schedule a consultation to get started.

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