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Is a family member always the best personal representative?

Choosing a personal representative to handle the administration of your estate is an extremely important decision. Most individuals view being chosen as a personal representative as an honor, while others may not want to undertake such an obligation and duty.

As you contemplate who will handle the administration of your estate, some ideas you should consider are found below. 

Talk early, talk often

Though not a subject you will talk about regularly, it is important to have discussions with the person you choose more than just once. The initial conversation is always a little surprising for family members. You may have been thinking about this decision for months or even years, but they, very likely, have not.

After your prospective personal representative has had time to process your first conversation and consider any questions, initiate the conversation again. The same family member who was willing to be your personal representative during the first conversation may need to learn more about the requirements, and ultimately may not be able to fulfill the duties required.

Signs you need outside help

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be difficult on its own, without the pressure of being named as a personal representative for the estate. Before choosing a personal representative, consider your family’s needs and individual situations, including:

  • Physical location. Will the personal representative need to travel multiple times to settle your estate?
  • Family dynamics. Consider whether choosing a particular family member as your personal representative will cause conflict within the family.
  • Emotional well-being. After their loss and deep feelings of grief, administering a will may take too much of an emotional toll on some.

If, after considering the options and receiving the sound advice of an attorney, you choose to appoint a third-party to administer your will explain to your family that it will allow them to grieve without having to deal with the formalities after your death. If you expect that certain individuals might be upset about your decision, talk to them individually so they have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with you personally.

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