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Your Estate Plan's Quarterback

How to Choose a Personal Representative

Your estate plan is the combination of documents that determine how your assets will be managed and distributed. When you create this plan, one of the most helpful things you can do for your family and beneficiaries is to spell out in detail how you want your estate to be handled.

A critical part of that process is naming an executor, known as a personal representative in many states. The representative holds an important job, serving as the quarterback of the estate settlement process. It is essential to entrust the right person to oversee the execution of the terms outlined in your will.

The Basics of a Personal Representative

If being a personal representative of a will seems like a big responsibility, that’s because it is. When it comes time to choose that person, you should pick someone responsible, organized and trustworthy. Common choices for an executor are a spouse, an adult child, a sibling or a close friend.

Your personal representative undertakes many important responsibilities, including:

  • Notifying all interested parties and agencies of your death.
  • Paying creditors and outstanding taxes.
  • Distributing your assets according to your will.

The Best Person for the Job

When selecting a personal representative, the most important consideration is whether the person can handle the various responsibilities of administering your estate. Many people select an executor based on their relationship to the person. This can quickly become disastrous when that person discovers that he or she is not suitable for the work.

If you don’t have a friend or relative you trust to complete these duties in a satisfactory manner, don’t worry. You could name a bank or trust company to handle these matters, for a fee. Many banks have experience administering estates, particularly larger ones.

Importantly, be sure to ask your selected representative before you name them as your executor. Ensure that they agree they’re up to the task.

Make an Impact Through Your Plan

Contact Dan H. Murrell, CFRE at dan.murrell@memphis.edu or 901-678-2732 to discuss ways to extend your support for the University of Memphis through your estate plan.

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