Choosing the best personal representative for your estate

Choosing a good personal representative is vital to the efficient running of your estate.

When many people are writing their wills, they assume that the most important aspect is choosing the right persons to inherit their property. Although this is no doubt critical, it is also important to choose the right person to act as personal representative of the estate. By doing so, it can be assured that the estate will be conducted in an efficient and competent manner and estate litigation or will contests are avoided.

In New Mexico, personal representatives carry out many duties that are important such as:

• Gathering, managing and liquidating the probate assets

• Proving and filing the will

• Notifying all creditors of the death and paying all valid claims

• Preparing the estate's tax returns

• Filing and defending lawsuits concerning the estate

• Accounting to beneficiaries for the estate assets

• Distributing the assets according to the terms of the will

Choosing the best personal representative

When many people choose a personal representative, they tend to choose a close family member. However, this is not always the best tactic. According to experts, the following factors should be considered when selecting a person to fulfill this important role:

Ability. The personal representative should have the ability, judgment, patience and maturity to manage the property and make financial decisions. Ideally, the person would have a financial or legal background, since the job involves paying bills and taxes, as well as filing legal paperwork. Finally, the candidate should be able to handle conflict well, as the probate process can cause or rekindle fighting among the beneficiaries.

Time availability. The job of personal representative is often time consuming, as it involves a lot of paperwork. As a result, it is important to select a candidate that has the time to do a good job of carrying out the duties of the position.

Honesty. It goes without saying that a trustworthy person should be nominated for the position. It can avoid a lot of familial conflict issues if the person nominated is neutral and would not attempt to favor one family member over another.

Experience. If you are unable to find someone with the abilities or traits needed for the position, or have a large or complex estate, consider engaging the services of an experienced estate administration attorney to serve as personal representative. This can minimize family conflict while ensuring that the estate is handled in a competent manner.

Once a suitable candidate has been found, it is important to ask about their willingness to take on the role. Since the original nominee may later change his or her mind or become unable to serve, it is a wise decision to name an alternate personal representative in the will.

Speak to an attorney

When you are beginning the estate planning process, it is important to seek out the advice of an experienced attorney. An estate planning attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place to ensure the smooth and efficient running of your estate.