Part of creating a will is naming a personal representative. A personal representative is responsible for managing the estate of another, including the probate assets.
To name a personal representative, you must first have a valid will in place. The will should specifically name who you want to manage your estate. Most people choose a representative they already know and can trust. Acting as a personal representative is a big responsibility. It’s best to choose a personal representative who has enough time as well as the financial stability to fulfill the demands of the role.
It’s also important to choose a personal representative who is good with details and record-keeping. A personal representative is held to the very highest standard and must act in the estate’s best interest. If the representative fails to pay taxes, distributes assets to the wrong person or in the wrong proportions, fails to pay creditors before distributing assets (among other things) he or she can be held personally responsible. And your intended beneficiaries can end up getting less than they should have.
If the person named in the will is unqualified to manage the estate for whatever reason – whether this person is a drug addict, gambler, spendthrift or otherwise unavailable – you can request a hearing in probate court to seek to have the second person listed on the will appointed as representative.
In high-conflict situations where family tension is running high, it’s often best to enlist the services of a licensed fiduciary or a trust company. In Arizona, a professional private fiduciary is licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court and will know how to get the job done. While there is a fee to hire a third party fiduciary, having a licensed fiduciary will often save you money by avoiding drawn-out court battles.
The position of a personal representative can be burdensome. It’s important to select someone who is not only willing, but qualified to fill the position. If you don’t have family or friends qualified, enlist the help of a licensed fiduciary.
We offer a multi‑page list that details all the tasks a personal representative must tend to when manage an estate. Do you have any questions about appointing a personal representative? Please comment and let me know.