Deciding Whether to Serve as Personal Representative

When your friend or loved one passes away, you may loon soon thereafter that you have been designated in his or her will to serve as the personal representative.  The personal representative (also commonly referred to as the “executor”) is the person responsible for making sure to gather the assets of the estate, notify the creditors and beneficiaries, paying the debts of the estate, and distributing the remaining assets.  Serving as the personal representative can be a big job, and there are many factors you will want to consider when deciding if you want to accept the position.

First, you should consider the skills and knowledge that the position requires.  A personal representative does not have to be an attorney or an accountant.  The more important skills required will involve patience and the ability to follow the rules set out in the Minnesota statutes as far as when to file, who to notify, and who to pay.

Another consideration is the complexity of the case. Even the most simple of cases can take up a lot of your spare time, and cases can last months or even years.  The more complex the case, the more time you will need to devote to the process.  Especially where the case is particularly complicated, even financially savvy personal representatives can find themselves in over their head.

Third, you should think about the personal relationships involved.  If you already have strained relationships with those who have been left out of the will or you know that certain individuals will contest the will, you may decide that serving as personal representative is less important than trying to preserve those connections and relationships.

Next, you should think about the potential inconvenience to you in serving as the personal representative.  It can be a very time consuming process, involving not only working with creditors and beneficiaries, but could also involve multiple court appearances.  If you do not live in the area or even out of state from where the estate is being probated, you will be required to travel back and forth for court hearings.  Especially immediately following the death of your friend or family member, you may decide that your time is better spent processing your emotions and going through the grieving process than involving yourself with the complicated logistics of probate.

Call us today at 651-413-9568 and let us help you.  We can answer your questions about the probate process and the responsibilities of the personal representative.