Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Selecting the Right Executor, Personal Representative, or Trustee

How to choose the right people to carry out your Florida estate plan

Having an estate plan is important, but it will be of limited use if you don’t choose the right person for administration. Selecting the right people to manage your estate is critical, and there are multiple factors to consider when evaluating candidates.

The best people for these roles fully understand your wishes and are dedicated to seeing them through. For knowledgeable legal guidance on your picks, contact The Levy Firm PLLC in Fort Lauderdale. During a free consultation, Fort Lauderdale estate planning attorney Geoff Levy can provide valuable insight and can help you distill key considerations to make this important choice.

Understanding the different roles

Although personal representatives and trustees carry out an individual's wishes after death, their roles are very different. Here is a brief explanation of their roles:

  • Personal Representative. When someone creates a will, they typically designate a personal representative or "executor" to carry out their wishes outlined in the estate plans. This person is responsible for tasks such as managing assets, locating beneficiaries, settling debts, and distributing assets according to the will. In Florida, there are few restrictions on who can act as an executor if they are Florida residents or close relatives. The personal representative is typically named by the testator, the person creating the will. If there is no will, or if the person named in the will is unable or unwilling to serve, a personal representative will be appointed by the probate court.
  • Trustee. A trustee is an individual entrusted with managing a trust, which is a legal arrangement holding assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts serve various purposes, such as estate planning, asset protection, or providing for specific family members. The trustee's responsibilities include managing and investing trust assets, distributing income or principal to beneficiaries according to the trust's terms, and ensuring the trust's objectives are fulfilled. Typically, trustees are appointed by the grantor, the person creating the trust, as outlined in the trust document.

It's common for individuals to serve in multiple roles, such as being named both a personal representative and a trustee. Your personal representative can also be your power of attorney, but this is not required.

Essential considerations when picking a personal representative or trustee

Ideally, a personal representative should only be chosen after consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. Professional guidance can help identify potential issues, navigate complexities, and ensure a well-informed decision. Consider the following when selecting a personal representative or trustee:

  • Skills and Abilities. An individual with legal, financial, or business acumen is best suited to manage a complex estate.
  • Communication and Conflict Resolution. Choose an executor who can handle conflicts well, recognizing that emotional responses may arise among beneficiaries. Trust is crucial to ensure the executor follows the deceased's wishes without personal bias.
  • Willingness to Serve. Ensure the chosen executor is willing and ready to undertake the role's responsibilities. Discuss the duties involved to gauge their commitment and preparedness.
  • Location. While Florida law allows out-of-state executors, practical reasons such as proximity to the estate should be considered for effective management and communication.
  • Professional Assistance. Seek guidance from experienced attorneys and professionals in estate planning. Their insights can help navigate complexities, avoid pitfalls, and ensure a well-informed decision.

Trust attorney Geoff Levy to guide your legacy

Choosing the right personal representative or trustee for your Florida estate involves careful consideration of qualifications, skills, trustworthiness, and willingness to serve. Whether you need help with a will or managing a high-volume wealth transfer, Fort Lauderdale estate planning attorney Geoff Levy provides unwavering commitment and lifelong support to all our clients. For any legal need – be it making changes to a trust, contract disputes, accident injuries, tax questions, or something else – clients can count on The Levy Firm PLLC for reliable advice and referrals.

If you’re making estate plans, writing a will, or establishing a trust in South Florida, contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can provide maximum protection of your assets and secure your legacy for your loved ones.

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Free Consultation. Contact Us Today.

If protecting your legacy and the financial security of your loved ones is a concern of yours, it’s a concern of ours. Let’s talk. Our law firm provides legal services in English and Spanish. Free consultations for new clients.

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