The pros and cons of being a personal representative

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Estate Planning

When California residents pass away, their estates usually go through a process called probate. During probate, the will is validated, the estate’s debts are settled and its assets are distributed according to the will’s provisions. The decedent’s personal representative, who is also called the estate’s executor, is a key figure during the probate process and has several important legal and financial duties. If the decedent did not name an executor in their will or did not leave a will, a suitable individual is appointed by the court.

The advantages of being a personal representative

Being asked to act as a person’s personal representative after they pass away is usually considered a great honor. If you are asked to accept this role, discharging your duties in a responsible and professional way could be a source of pride and accomplishment. If the probate process is likely to be complicated, the testator who names you will probably set aside some money when they draft their will to make sure that you are fairly compensated for your efforts.

The disadvantages of being a personal representative

Personal representatives have many important duties to attend to during probate and estate administration, so it is not a role that should be taken on lightly. The estate’s debts and taxes will have to be paid, and assets will have to be managed and sold. While doing all of these things, you will be expected to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries at all times. If you make mistakes that cost the estate money, you could be sued and held personally responsible for the losses.

Think carefully before accepting the role

If you are asked to be the executor, you may feel honor bound to accept. However, this is an important role that requires commitment and meticulous attention to detail. If you are not the kind of person who feels comfortable sifting through pages and pages of legal and financial documents, you will probably do your friend or family member a great service if you decide not to act as their personal representative.