A personal representative has a very important role. They oversee the probate of your estate after you die. You want to make sure that the person chosen for this role is up to the task.
Massachusetts law dictates who will be your estate’s personal representative based on whether you left a will at the time of your death.
Who will be the personal representative of your estate?
Who will be the personal representative of your estate depends on whether or not you had a will at the time of your death.
Many people designate a person in their will to serve as personal representative. This designee has legal priority over all others to serve as personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
If a person died without a will, their surviving spouse has legal priority to serve as personal representative. If there is no surviving spouse, the heirs of the deceased have legal priority to serve as personal representative.
Things to consider when choosing a personal representative in your will
Choosing a personal representative is important and personal. You want to choose someone you trust and who is capable of fulfilling the duties of a personal representative.
You may initially decide to choose your spouse. However, what if your spouse predeceases you? The same can be said for other older adults who may pass away before you do. Your personal representative needs to be alive to execute their duties.
You may decide to choose an adult child. This could work for some. Make sure that choosing one child will not cause animosity among other children. Also, ensure your adult child has the time and desire to serve as personal representative.
Some people choose to have their attorney or other professional serve as personal representative. This could help avoid family conflict. However, you generally need to pay these professionals for their services.
In the end, you want to choose a personal representative who is responsible, willing and capable. It is an important decision that could affect the probate of your estate.