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Choosing the right personal representative in estate planning

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Estate Planning

The estate planning process requires that people complete certain uncomfortable tasks. A testator who is drafting their documents must think about what could happen after they die. They may have to think about what happens if they have a medical emergency that leaves them unable to communicate with others or provide for their families.

They must look carefully at their financial circumstances to evaluate whether they can retire and what type of support they can count on as they age. They also have to determine who should inherit the property from their estate after their passing. Beyond that, testators also have to look carefully at their personal relationships to choose the right person to settle their affairs.

In Florida, estate planning typically requires that someone makes a decision about who should serve as their executor or personal representative. How can someone choose the right candidates to uphold their last wishes and settle their affairs after they die?

The right candidate possesses key qualities

Numerous factors may influence the decision of who to name as a personal representative. The relationship that the testator has with different candidates is an important consideration. Those on positive terms with the testator are more likely to uphold their wishes than someone estranged from the testator.

Additionally, the personality traits that someone has demonstrated as an adult can influence whether they are a good option for the personal representative of another adult’s estate. The ideal personal representative has several key qualities.

The necessary characteristics of a proficient personal representative include:

  • organizational abilities
  • a deep-seated sense of responsibility
  • efficiency
  • a calm demeanor
  • rational decision-making under pressure
  • a personal sense of ethics

Being able to set aside one’s own wishes in favor of what would benefit the heirs or beneficiaries of an estate is of the utmost importance. The testator needs to trust that the person they select can follow their instructions competently without letting their personal wishes influence their actions. The personal representative typically also needs to be young and healthy enough to assume that responsibility several decades in the future.

Additionally, their family circumstances and living arrangements can be a factor. The most responsible person who currently lives in Oregon may not be an ideal candidate because they cannot be physically present throughout the estate administration process. Someone with a demanding job or special needs children may not be able to fully commit their attention to estate administration.

Some people choose a single individual that they trust. Others name two or more people to share the responsibility of probate administration. Occasionally, estate planning leads to someone hiring a professional fiduciary instead of naming a person they know as their representative. Choosing the right personal representative is a key element of effective estate planning. Those who earnestly reflect on their relationships may have a better time selecting viable candidates.