Selecting a Personal Representative for Your EstateAn estate often consists of everything a person has worked their entire lives to build.  Therefore, planning for your estate is no small matter.  In making plans for your estate, you will no doubt want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that all you have worked for will be distributed according to your direction and that your final wishes will be carried out.  That is why it will be critical that you are careful when selecting a personal representative to manage the administration of your estate.

In Michigan, when a person dies the distribution of their estate will be under the jurisdiction of the probate court.  When the estate begins the probate process, the court will look to the deceased person’s will in order to determine if they have named a “personal representative.”   A personal representative is a person responsible for administering the deceased person’s estate.  What this means is that they will have the power to and be responsible for seeing to it that the deceased person’s final wishes are carried out, that creditors are paid, and beneficiaries receive their respective inheritances.  If the descendant dies without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative who will then carry out the same tasks.

When it comes to choosing someone to be your personal representative, it will be important to think about who you believe would honor your wishes.  It may be that you want a relative to complete the task.  However, a significant consideration is whether or not that relative can handle managing the requirements of the court as well as paying your debts and beneficiaries.  If this is someone close to the decedent, it might be too much of a burden on them during a time when they are grieving.  Additionally, it will be important to consider the degree of interpersonal conflict this person may have with the beneficiaries.

The person’s degree of sophistication may also be a consideration as it will be critical to determine if they can understand the tasks associated with this role.   Another consideration when choosing a personal representative is how close the person lives.  For instance, appointing an out-of-state relative is allowed under Michigan law, but it may not be practical given that the personal representative will need to handle many aspects of your estate locally. In some cases, it may be best that the personal representative may be a neutral third party professional such as an attorney.  Whoever you decide should be your personal representative, it should be a person you trust to carry out your directions and be responsible while managing your estate.

Our office has knowledge about and experience with helping plan for the future of an estate and finding the right personal representative.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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