It is often the case that persons preparing their will or estate plan simply tell their attorney to name their oldest child as the Personal Representative. Sometimes that is a good idea and sometimes it is not. Here are some qualities for choosing a good Personal Representative:
1. The person must have the time to devote to the duties of a Personal Representative.
2. The person must have a good relationship with the other heirs and family members.
3. The person must be honest. Unfortunately, there are cases where the Personal Representative takes assets that should be going to a different family member.
4. The person must be organized and be willing to take advice of professionals and others to guide administration of the estate.
Most people spend a great deal of time determining which family members are to receive which asset but not much time thinking about who will be the Personal Representative of their estate on their death.
In Wyoming, the Personal Representative is the person who, working in concert with the attorney for the estate, manages the assets, pays the debts and distributes the property of the deceased, according to the terms of the Will.
The Personal Representative has a duty of loyalty and a duty of care to marshal or gather and protect all assets of the estate. For example, if the deceased person owned a now empty home, the Personal Representative must make sure the home is secured, the assets are inventoried and protected, the utility bills are paid and perhaps that a security system is installed. The Personal Representative must make a careful search to find all of the deceased person's assets, and to pay all of the deceased's bills. The assets include items that may be in a safe, land located in other states, bank accounts, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts and art or other valuables. The inventory of the assets must be filed with the court, with the assistance of the estate's attorney.
A Notice of Creditors must be published in a local newspaper of general circulation, notifying potential creditors that they must formally present claims or the debts will be forever extinguished. If a creditor's claim is presented, the Personal Representative has a limited time to deny the claim if the Personal Representative believes it is not a valid claim.
After all the creditors are paid, the Personal Representative must distribute the remaining assets to the persons the deceased named in the Will.
Usually the Personal Representative does not get paid for all of this work. There is a statutory provision in Wyoming regarding payment for the work of the Personal Representative. The attorney handling the estate will be doing much of the work, with the Personal Representative assisting.
Sometimes, it might be more practical to name an accountant or other professional as the Personal Representative if there is no qualified person to be named as Personal Representative.
I offer a free consultation and I'll gladly discuss your thoughts regarding your will with you at your convenience. Contact me today.