One of the most important decisions you must make when making your estate plan is who will handle things for you when you die.
The Importance of a Personal Representative or Trustee.
In Arizona, a “Personal Representative” administers your estate and remains in charge until your estate is legally closed. Depending on the complexity of your estate, that can take years. If you have a will before you die, you will decide who is going to act as your Personal Representative.
The duties of your Personal Representative are critical to the proper administration of your estate. Who you choose to be your Personal Representative can mean the difference between an efficiently administered estate and one that is a legal and financial nightmare.
If you have a Living Trust, and you manage the trust property yourself as trustee during your lifetime, after your death (or incapacitation), the successor trustee (who you have named in your trust documents) will manage the trust fund.
It is the trustee’s duty to follow the instructions in the trust documents and to make sure that the assets in the trust (money, property, stocks etc.) are safeguarded, invested appropriately, and are used for the beneficiaries. .
How To Choose a Personal Representative or Trustee.
As you can see, who you choose to be your Personal Representative or Trustee is critical to the efficient handling of your estate and to your heirs and beneficiaries.
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how to choose a Trustee or Personal Representative, but here are 4 qualities that you should look for in any person you may be considering for these important roles:
- Honesty and Integrity.
First and foremost, a Personal Representative or Trustee is your “fiduciary.”
That means that they will act in your (or your estate’s or that of your beneficiaries’/heirs’) best interests (and that they can be sued if they do not). So, the first quality you want to look for in any fiduciary is that of honesty and integrity.
When it comes to inheritances, it is not uncommon for there to be bickering or jealousy among the heirs or beneficiaries. Oftentimes, people believe they are being treated unfairly or that a sibling is being given preferential treatment (more money; something you promised to them; the “best car” etc.). Due to these issues,, it is important that you choose a Personal Representative or Trustee who will be seen as impartial and fair to all concerned. This quality can go a long way towards preventing your heirs and estate from becoming embroiled in expensive time-consuming legal battles.
Finally, you need a Personal Representative who has the ability to get things done. There is a lot of paperwork, deadlines, and legal procedures to be followed, and detail associated with administering an estate or a trust. So you need to choose someone who can handle the duties assigned to him or her and who will do so in a timely fashion. Otherwise, you risk delays or unnecessary expenses.
Although we may not like to think about death and dying, when we prepare for our own death in advance, we can make the necessary decisions that will ensure our wishes and desires are fulfilled and our family members taken care of.
If you know someone who meets all three requirements, as listed above, but lives far away, then have no fear to list them as your trustee ore Personal Representative. The reason being is because we are always happy to help your trustee or Personal Representative with any concerns or distances issues they may have.
A lot can be done via faxes and emails, so when it comes to the items that require a physical appearance, we can act on behalf of your trustee or Personal Representative if they grant us the authority to do so. So do not hold back on choosing the most fitting person just because they live far way.
We Can Help.
As experienced trusts and estates attorneys we can help you. We offer free consultations. Our offices are located in beautiful Sedona and we serve Verde Valley, and all of Arizona as well. We can help you provide and plan for your loved ones. Call us at 928-282-1483 or contact us here.