Picking A Personal Representative For Your Will
When creating a will, you will need to name someone to act as the personal representative of your estate. Our Tampa estate planning lawyer explains some of the qualities to look for in the person you select for this important and potentially demanding role.
Why A Family Member May Not Be The Best Choice
Personal representatives play a major role in making sure your estate is settled properly in the event of your passing. However, under the Florida Statutes, there are few guidelines to follow in the selection process. As long as someone is a legal resident of Florida and sui juris, which means of legal age, they are qualified.
Your spouse, adult children, parents, or other close family members may seem like an obvious choice, considering they likely are familiar with your affairs and any final wishes you have. However, there are some factors to consider before formally naming them as your personal representative:
- The grief process: Probate typically happens within weeks or months of your passing. A close loved one will likely still be grieving your loss and may not be up to fulfilling this role.
- Ability to get around: If they have mobility or transportation issues, they may have a hard time attending probate court hearings.
- Basic skill: Probate involves performing a variety of complex tasks, such as dealing with creditors and filing final estate taxes. If your loved one lacks some basic skills, this could create serious challenges.
- Ability to be impartial in dealing with others: You should discuss the details of your will with your loved ones prior to your passing. However, there may still be some who are unhappy with the terms. Will contests are common and could put your loved one in a difficult position.
Picking The Right Person To Act As Your Representative
Based on the above, it may be clear that a spouse or other close loved one is not the best choice for a personal representative. This can create a dilemma in terms of who you actually choose. There are numerous other options, such as a more qualified personal relation, business partner, or even your accountant or lawyer. When making your selection, qualities to look for include:
- Willingness: Check with the person you select prior to naming them as your personal representative to ensure they are willing to perform this task.
- Trust: Your personal representative needs to act in accordance with your wishes and in your best interests.
- Basic business skills: This can help in dealing with the probate court, handling creditor claims, and filing taxes.
- Time: Settling an estate can take long months. Make sure your personal representative has the time to devote.
Discuss Your Options With Our Tampa Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., we can guide you in all aspects of creating a will, from choosing a personal representative to designating beneficiaries. To discuss your options, call or contact our Tampa estate planning lawyer online and request a consultation.