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How to choose the right person to manage probate proceedings

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Probate |

Estate planning is a complex process that requires a careful review of an individual’s personal circumstances. Testators planning their estates need to decide what should happen with their property and also who should provide support for their closest family members. They generally also need to name someone to serve as the personal representative of their estate.

Failing to choose someone might mean that the courts appoint whoever expresses a willingness to take on that responsibility. This isn’t ideal, as choosing the person who oversees probate proceedings can be as important as the creation of an estate plan outlining someone’s last wishes.

How can someone choose the right party to oversee probate proceedings after their passing?

Testators need to look at the big picture

There are many factors that influence an individual’s fitness for the role of personal representative. Someone’s age and health are key considerations. Choosing someone who is older or medically fragile is usually not the best option. A testator wants to select someone who should outlive them and who should be in good health during probate proceedings.

Where someone lives can also be an important consideration. It can be much more difficult to handle estate administration from another state than it is to oversee the process as a local resident. Someone’s current responsibilities are also an important consideration. Someone with multiple young children at home may not have the time or mental focus necessary to really devote themselves to estate administration after someone’s death.

Additionally, testators need to think about how responsible different people have proven themselves to be and how ethical they generally are. Having control over someone’s estate can sometimes bring out the worst characteristics in certain individuals. Some people embezzle or try to cut off other family members specifically included in estate planning paperwork.

Many people realize that there is truly only one ideal candidate in their pool of options. Others might name two or more people to share those responsibilities after their passing. In some cases, testators even choose to hire a professional fiduciary to oversee estate administration because they worry that no one they trust could handle the responsibility. Other times, worries about the possibility of conflict within the family might lead to someone choosing a friend or a professional instead of a close relative.

Taking the time to contemplate different options when selecting a personal representative is a crucial part of the estate planning process.