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Who should I name as my personal representative?

A personal representative, also called an executor of a will, is charged with many responsibilities after the death of a loved one. If you do not name a personal representative in your lifetime, the future of your estate and assets may be left in the hands of whomever the court appoints.

But, choosing who to designate this huge responsibility to can be difficult. Here are a few tips that may help you pick the best candidate:

Family members

Most people lend their trust in a family member when choosing a personal representative. If you have someone in mind, consider the following:

  • Is this person in good health or otherwise expected to be around after you've passed?
  • Does this person have any conflicts within the family that may cause issues?
  • Is this person generally honest and trustworthy?
  • Does this person value and respect your choices even when they disagree with you?
  • Is this person responsible enough to handle the duties of the personal representative?
  • Have you discussed the personal representative role and proposed the responsibility to this person?

When making your selection, keep in mind that the person you choose may elect the help of a professional, such as an attorney or financial adviser, to settle your estate.

Third party options

The responsibility of a personal representative can be a heavy burden at a time when your loved ones are grieving and charged with other post-mortem responsibilities. If there is not a family member you would like to choose as your personal representative, you have the option of electing a third party to handle the task instead.

Examples of a third party personal representative could be:

  • A bank
  • An attorney
  • A trust company

Appoint your personal representative

To appoint your personal representative, talk to an estate planning lawyer about updating or setting up your estate plan. A lawyer can help you set up any explicit instruction for the personal representatives and walk you through other estate planning options that may make sense for your unique circumstances.

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