Why is it important for me to appoint a Personal Representative of my Estate?

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A Personal Representative is a person put in charge of managing your probate estate at your death.  This person is sometimes referred to as an executor, executrix, or an administrator.

The Personal Representative you have nominated in your will needs to ask the probate judge to be appointed to serve.  Being appointed to serve gives the Personal Representative the authority to work with banks, credit unions, life insurance companies, brokerages, etc., to pay final expenses, make sure all lawful claims are paid, and finalize your estate.  Once all claims and expenses are paid, the Personal Representative distributes what remains of your assets to your beneficiaries according to your will.

A successor Trustee is the person you name to manage your trust at your death, or during your life if you can no longer manage the trust yourself, when you have a trust as your main estate planning document.  The primary duty of a successor Trustee is to make the final trust distribution much like the Personal Representative of your estate.  Unlike a Personal Representative, a successor Trustee does not need to be appointed by a judge in order to serve.  The personal representative needs to take a copy of the trust, and/or a certification of trust, and your death certificate to the banks, credit unions, etc., where trust assets are held to gain access to the accounts.

An Attorney-In-Fact is the person you name as an agent under a Power of Attorney to conduct financial business for you in the event you cannot conduct your own financial affairs.  The powers granted to the attorney-in-fact can be general or specific.  Your agent only has authority to act on assets not owned by your trust and the agent’s authority ends at your death.

Finally, a Health Care Representative is the person you name in your Advance Directive to make health care decisions on your behalf when you cannot communicate your wishes to your health care providers.  This power includes carrying out your wishes regarding end of life decision making.  There are restrictions on who can act as your Health Care Representative.  The Advance Directive should be filled out carefully so your wishes are honored.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the roles of your fiduciaries and how to appoint them. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.