Who is the Personal Representative of My Estate?
Hi, my name is Jordan Flake. I’m a managing partner at Clear Counsel Law Group. One question we get a lot in out estate planning practice is, how do I know who’s going to take care of my stuff, after I pass away? To put the question in more legal terms, how do I know who is going to be the personal representative, at the time of my passing? You really have 2 choices. First choice is, you decide, second choice is, the state decides.
Under the first choice, you can decide whoever you want. You can list them in your will, to be your executor, or if you use a trust, you would appoint them as your trustee, in your trust. That can be anyone, and the court will honor your wishes. Sometimes, there could be limitations on that, in terms of, whether or not this person is maybe in jail, or a felon, or whether or not the appointment was obtained through their undue influence. By and large, you can make that decision, and you should make that decision, because the alternative is number 2, which is the state decides.
That’s not as horrible as it might seem, because there are laws in place that tend to try to replicate our desires. For example, I’m married, and if I passed away without creating an estate plan, my wife would have authority to serve. Well, even with my estate plan, my wife has authority to serve. You can see how the state laws try to do what’s reasonable under the circumstances, and appoint people close to you.
However, we deal with a lot of situations where there’s a mother who passes away, who has been estranged from, for example, her daughter, for years, and wants her daughter to have nothing to do with her. The daughter has basically abandoned the mother, and yet, because the mother didn’t do valid and proper estate planning, the daughter, actually, can be appointed to serve, under the statutes, because the mother didn’t take that initiative.
When you think about this question, who’s going to be appointed, who’s going to be responsible for your estate after you pass away? I’d really encourage you to come see us for a consultation, so that we can make sure that the person you want serves in that capacity, rather than just what the statutes have happened in that situation. Come see us at Clear Counsel Law Group, and we’ll help you out with this issue.