Your personal representative is the person you choose to essentially “close up” your estate. This position is synonymous with the term executor.
He or she is the individual responsible for collecting all your assets, lining up all of your debts, and ensuring everything is handled appropriately. He or she is the “go-to” person in your estate. It is a position that should not be handled lightly, and it should be someone you trust well to do the right thing.
Choosing the Right Person
Choosing a personal representative is arguably the most important decision you make in your estate planning process, aside from choosing a guardian if you have minor children.
The person you choose should be responsible, can handle pressure, is good with money, and is capable of handling tough decisions. He or she will also need to withstand any pressure from relatives or creditors and settle any disputes, if possible, over estate assets and debts.
Finding the right person who can handle all of these problems is important for successful estate planning.
Making the Tough Decisions
Your personal representative does not have an easy task by any means. After you die, he or she must figure out what assets you have, as well as all debts that are outstanding.
That person will be charged with creating an opening inventory of both assets and debts to notify the court. If you own a home, your personal representative will be responsible for taking care of the home, including maintaining it and paying monthly bills until it can be sold or ownership assumed by another person.
It is his or her responsibility that the home does not go into foreclosure. It will be the same for any other assets you may have, such as cars, recreational vehicles, or personal property. If you own a business, this person will be responsible for handling the business, unless you appoint a surrogate to take over once you pass away.
Unless you leave a detailed list of property, directing to whom each item goes, your personal representative will also have to divide up your personal items and disburse them appropriately. Overall, it is a lot to handle.
How Can I Help?
No matter how well you think your personal representative can handle tough situations, this does not mean you need to make the situation any harder than it has to be. You can do several things beforehand to make your personal representative’s job somewhat easier once you pass away.
After you die, your personal representative is going to be handed the enormous task of going through everything you own and everything you owe, making an inventory of assets and debts, and figure out where to even start.
If you own your home and need to sell it, he or she will need to figure out what bills need to be paid to maintain the home until it is sold. He or she will also need to know any other outstanding monthly bills you have. If you have any bank accounts or retirement accounts, he or she will need to know this information as well.
It would make life a lot easier if all of this information was in one place, would it not? Along with your estate documents, keep a listing of your major property items, your accounts, etc. Keep a list of your online accounts including log in information and passwords.
If you have a list of personal property items you wish to go to certain relatives, and this information is not in your will, keep a list with your will of these items. Make sure your filing system is easy to navigate.
No one likes to organize, but you certainly do not want your personal representative to face stacks of random bills and statements to sort through and figure out what is relevant and what is not.
This simple process will make it easier for when your personal representative does have to assess bills that need to be paid or outstanding obligations that exist. More importantly than anything, talk with your personal representative.
Do not assume he or she will simply figure things out when it comes time. Tell him or her where you keep important documents, where you keep your bank information, bills, and other paperwork.
Make sure you inform him or her of your wishes regarding your real property and personal property. This is your estate, after all. It is up to you to ensure that everything is prepared appropriately. The more you do on the front end, the easier you make it for your loved ones.
Contact Brian M. Douglas and Associates Today
To lean more or to settle your Estate Planning needs, please call Georgia attorney Brian M. Douglas at (770) 933-9009 to schedule a consultation, or contact us online.