Whom Should You Choose As Your Personal Representative?
Your personal representative will play a critical role in the probate process once you die and, for this reason, must be selected with care. Choosing the wrong personal representative can be disastrous for you and your family. This person could not only fail to pay off claims but could endanger your estate by not collecting and safekeeping assets. Even worse, the wrong personal representative can increase family tensions during a challenging time.
At Strategic Counsel Law Group, we appreciate how critically important choosing the right personal representative can be. When drafting an estate plan, we offer the following five considerations every person should mull over.
Understand Whom You Can’t Choose
Florida Statute section 733.303 lays out some people who are prohibited from serving:
- A convicted felon
- Anyone convicted of abusing, neglecting, or exploiting an elderly person or disabled adult
- Someone whose mental or physical condition prevents them from serving
- Someone under age 18
You also cannot name someone to serve if they do not live in Florida unless this person is a child or other close relative.
Identify Someone Trustworthy
Personal representatives wield tremendous power in the probate process. Yes, the court will oversee them, but representatives make countless decisions on their own. Most importantly, you want them to follow through with the instructions in your will.
You also want someone who will treat all beneficiaries fairly since situations sometimes arise where they must deviate from the will, like liquidating assets to pay claims.
Look for someone you trust. Ask yourself if this person is someone you would trust to deposit cash in a bank account for you why you are alive. Are you sure they would deposit all the money? Do you think they might skim some off the top? If you don’t trust the person right now to handle essential tasks, you don’t want them administering your estate.
Choose Someone with an Eye for Detail
A personal representative has countless tasks, such as reviewing claims against the estate, collecting assets, and filing paperwork with the court. You want someone comfortable with this type of detailed work.
Avoid a Divisive Figure in the Family
The personal representative sometimes finds herself in the middle of family disputes. Of course, not all representatives can act as a counselor to squabbling siblings—but the last thing you want is someone who pours gas onto flames, making matters worse. Find someone with the maturity and confidence to see that the job is done right, even if they take some heat from dissatisfied family members.
Talk with Your Selection Before Naming Them
You never want it to be a surprise that you have named someone as your estate’s representative. Instead, meet with them while you draft your estate plan and ask if they would be willing to serve. If they say “no,” there’s no reason to push.
Discuss Your Options with a Tampa Attorney
Strategic Counsel Law Group has helped countless clients draft wills. We can help you choose your personal representative and ensure you feel comfortable with the choice. Contact our Tampa estate planning lawyers to schedule a time to meet.