Who Should You Select to be the Personal Representative of Your Estate?
Jordan: Hi, my name is Jordan. I’m an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group. I do a lot of estate planning. Invariably people who are my clients want to know who can I list as my executor or my personal representative, or trustee. I use all of those terms interchangeably, but really when you do estate planning there’s a lot of situations where you have to say, “Who can I trust? Who do I trust? Who can I put down? Who’s going to be responsible for everything when I pass away.”
Again, when we’re talking about personal representative we’re not necessarily talking about to whom the assets are going to go ultimately in terms of distribution. We’re talking about initially after I pass away or if I become incapacitated, who’s going to be there to assume responsibility. Sometimes I’ll have clients say, “I don’t really have anyone. Could I have attorney, could you do it? Could I have my CPA serve in that capacity?”
The answer is you can have anybody serve in that capacity as long as they are an adult and as long as they have their competence and ability to do that. Who should you have is a very, very personal type question and you have to go through and see what factors are relevant in your life. Some people don’t have anyone. They could list a CPA or a financial planner. You could under certain circumstances list your estate planning attorney. Oftentimes if we are asked to do it, we’ll say Clear Counsel Law Group or an individual pointed by them just so that potentially we don’t actually assume that responsibility. We might find somebody to actually do it for you.
Really oftentimes it makes sense to look at those people who are closest to you, who you trust, who are most familiar with your preferences and your personal circumstances. It’s very, very fact-intensive. Any follow up question on this, Brian?
Brian: You said sometimes Clear Counsel Law Group will find a trustee for you. Could you talk a little bit more about who those folks are?
Jordan: Sure, one of the reasons why you might not want to have an attorney serve as a personal representative is that sometimes our time is billed at a higher rate than a private professional who would do these types of services. Some people aren’t aware that there’s an entire industry of basically private professional fiduciaries. By that, I mean individuals who basically say, “Look, I will serve as a trustee of a trust or the executor of a will. I will be paid out of the proceeds of the estate. I’m a disinterested third party. I am very good at keeping books and accounting. I’m going to do a really good job of this. You’re going to have to pay somebody to do it, whether it’s a family member or a private professional fiduciary. Might as well pay me. I’m not going to get caught up in any of the family drama. I’m just going to do exactly what the documents say.”
There are really good private professional fiduciaries out there in your local marketplace. We can help you find those people and get them onboard with serving in those personal representative-type capacities. When I say some of our clients list Clear Counsel Law Group or an individual appointed by them, what I mean is we reserve the right to not serve in that capacity but to find a capable, disinterested third party personal private professional representative, some kind of professional fiduciary to fill that capacity.
In any event, if you’re in this situation where you aren’t sure who you can trust with the decision-making aspects of your estate, that would be a really good reason to give us a call so that we can walk you through some of the different options that you have. Give us a call. We’ll do a free consultation. Come in and meet with us and we’ll see what we can figure out. Thank you.