When you pass away, someone needs to be appointed to handle your affairs. This person may be known as a personal representative or an executor, and can be named through your estate planning documents like a will. It’s a good idea to think carefully about who you’ll name as your executor and to have a conversation with them about your intentions and naming them in this role.
This is because an executor plays a crucial role in the administration of your estate, and someone who is not familiar with legal or financial issues may need to hire a probate lawyer to assist them with that process. It is perfectly legal for an executor to seek outside counsel in pursuing administration of your estate, but it can also impact the overall value of your estate.
An executor named for estate administration purposes does not need to be a financial or a legal expert, but they do take on what is known as fiduciary duty. This fiduciary duty means they have a legal responsibility to the estate and the beneficiaries of that state to maintain a high level of impartiality, diligence, good faith, trust and honesty. If the estate in question is very complex, it may be recommended to retain a corporate executor, or someone who does have familiarity with these various areas.
It can be overwhelming for a family member who did not know about being named in this role to find themselves suddenly managing your estate, so take care in selecting this person.
If you have not yet named someone to serve as your executor or personal representative, it’s a good idea to so do now. You can create your will to name this party by working directly with an estate planning lawyer in Pasadena, CA.