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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Thursday, April 11, 2019

6 Tips for Choosing a Personal Representative

A Personal Representative is someone who administers your probate estate after your death. Another term to describe this person is an executor. In South Carolina, you name your personal representative or personal representative in your will. If you do not name someone in your will or you do not have a will, someone must petition for court approval to serve as the personal representative of the estate. Your personal representative serves an important role. A Charleston probate and trust administration lawyer can help you review the traits that are desirable when choosing a personal representative.

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Representative for Your Estate

Who should you choose to be your personal representative? What traits make someone the best choice for a personal representative? Below are several tips that can help you as you evaluate each person on your list of potential individuals to serve as personal representative for your estate.

1. Age of the Person

Anyone over the age of 18 years can serve as a personal representative. However, you may want to choose someone who is a little older, so they have more experience handling financial and legal matters. On the other hand, you may also want to name at least one younger successor personal representative for your estate. Many individuals name their spouse, sibling, or parent as personal representative. Unfortunately, they may outlive this person. If they fail to name a successor personal representative in their will, the court will name a personal representative, which may not be an ideal situation.

2. Is The Person Good With Finances?

The person you choose to manage your estate will handle your personal finances upon your death. Therefore, you may want to choose a person who has managed his or her finances successfully over the years. Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not the person will need to be bonded. Most wills have a provision waiving bond. However, if you believe bonding will be an issue, you should avoid choosing anyone who has declared bankruptcy, has a poor credit rating, or no credit rating because they may have difficulty qualifying for a bond.

3. Willingness to Serve as a Personal Representative

Everyone on your list may not be willing to serve as the personal representative of your estate. Before finalizing your will, you may want to discuss your choice with the person(s) you choose to be personal representative and successor personal representative to ensure they are willing to serve in this capacity.

4. Location of the Individual

In most cases, you can name someone who does not live near you as the personal representative of your estate, but it could make it more difficult if the person needs to be in court or needs to physically manage and inventory your property. Your personal representative can hire local counsel to assist him or her, but you may not want your estate to incur the cost.

5. Calming Presence Combined with Determination

Some individuals can remain calm in situations better than other individuals. Your personal representative may need to moderate disputes between family members and deal with individuals who are “dramatic” or emotional. Make sure you choose someone who has a level head and a calm disposition. However, the person should also be able to stand up to relatives and heirs who may want to argue about the terms of your will. Patience is also a good quality to have when you are a personal representative.

6. Consider a Professional or Institution as Personal Representative

You do not need to choose a friend or family member as your personal representative. You may choose an attorney, accountant, financial institution, or other professional to serve as your personal representative. Choosing a corporate personal representative can be beneficial if you have a large, complex estate or you anticipate disputes between heirs and beneficiaries.

Contact a South Carolina Estate-Planning Attorney to Discuss Your Estate Plan

If you have an estate plan, it is a good idea to review your plan periodically. If you do not have an estate plan, you should strongly consider drafting one to protect yourself, your family, and your property. 

Schedule a consult with one of our Charleston trust administration lawyers today to discuss your estate planning needs. 

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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.

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