A will is an important document allowing you to direct the disposition of your property upon death. Among the decisions in executing a will is selecting a personal representative, also known as an executor.
What is a personal representative?
A personal representative is responsible for administering an estate and carrying out the directions contained in the will. The personal representative’s duties include settling your estate’s debts, distributing your assets to beneficiaries named in the will and any other duties necessary to settle your estate.
Selecting a personal representative
While each estate is different, there are several characteristics that experts recognize as important in selecting a personal representative.
As you might imagine, an important characteristic of a personal representative is trust. A personal representative has significant responsibilities, so you want somebody you trust to carry out your last wishes as reflected in your will.
It is also important that potential beneficiaries trust the personal representative. Lack of communication tends to breed mistrust and potential challenges to your will, so strong communication skills are especially helpful in a personal representative.
The personal representative should be willing and able to perform the duties. Talk with a potential personal representative and ask if they are comfortable and able to fulfill the duties.
For straightforward estates, specialized legal or financial knowledge is likely not needed. But for more complex estates, it may be appropriate for a personal representative have to special skills, such as an accountant, banker or attorney.
Finally, a personal representative for a Florida estate generally must be a Florida resident.
Planning your estate
An experienced attorney can assist you with developing an estate plan and understanding your options. An attorney can also help with selecting an appropriate personal representative and drafting the will.