When you create an estate plan, you need to name a few fiduciaries who will act on your behalf. One of these is your personal representative – also referred to as the executor. You name this person in your will and you should name a back-up, just in case.
The personal representative you select has a big role to play. He is responsible for:
- Locating assets that must go through probate.
- Getting appraisals for all assets located in your estate.
- Getting taxes taken care of for your estate, including for your business.
- Paying off all debts and creditors.
- Determining your estate’s income and any estate income tax associated with it.
- Preparing tax returns for your estate.
- Paying expenses for managing your estate until the process is closed – this can include court fees and attorney fees.
- Raising any funds necessary to pay off your administrative fees and creditors – if there isn’t enough in your estate.
- Finding documents associated with your estate plan and presenting them in probate court.
- Distributing assets after locating all proper beneficiaries.
This is a huge responsibility and one that most people can’t fill. When you’re looking for a personal representative for your estate, you will want to consider it carefully. Select a person who is responsible, organized and financially savvy. You don’t have to select a family member. In fact some people use friends or professionals for their personal representative to protect their estate’s best interests and avoid any negative feelings from beneficiaries. Regardless, consult your estate planning attorney for assistance with your selection.