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The Role of the Personal Representative

The person whom elder law attorneys have long referred to as the “executor” has now been given an alternative name when managing your estate. Known as the “personal representative”, this person is appointed by either the person doing the estate planning or by the courts when there was no one named in a will.  The personal representative has a very big job of finishing up the decedent’s business, such as taking care of taxes and keeping the bills paid; not to mention the much more commonly recognized job of making sure the decedent’s wishes are followed when it comes to distributing assets.

If you are named as a personal representative here, it’s likely that you will need the guidance and expertise of a wills and trusts attorney.  Your loved one may have recommended one in the will, although you usually have a choice in whom you hire.  This lawyer will help you better understand your role as a personal representative and can offer considerable advice on how to execute your duties and protect as much of the inheritance as possible from court costs, taxes, etc.

Your Job as Personal Representative

There are several responsibilities that come along with being a personal representative, and there are personal qualities which may make one person a better choice than others.  For example, a good personal representative will have a sense of fairness and will be able to remain impartial when it comes to following the decedent’s instructions.  You will bring these qualities to the table while you:

  • Find all parts of the estate and do a complete inventory of assets
  • Pay the bills of the estate while it is being processed
  • Manage the estate’s assets as required throughout the process
  • Distribute assets to heirs and beneficiaries according to the decedent’s wishes
  • Close the estate when everything is ready

The courts don’t necessarily have to accept you as the personal representative just because you were nominated in the will, but even before that process has started, you are allowed to carry out certain written instructions left by the decedent, especially when it comes to the body and funeral arrangements.  You may also want to get a start on gathering and protecting assets while working to locate the decedent’s original will (often kept in the home, safe deposit box, or with the attorney).

There will be other documents to track down, as well such as funeral plans, wills and trusts, pre-nuptial agreements, insurance policies, retirement fund statements, bankruptcy papers, unpaid bills, and so much more.  Your elder law attorney can give you a much more comprehensive list to get you going in the right direction so you can ensure that every aspect of the estate has been considered.

Hear From Our Clients
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“On the threshold of retirement, we finally decided to quit thinking we could self-prepare the requisite documents. We had previously had only a very simple will. We needed the necessary legal (including updated will) & health care docs but didn’t want to deal with the time & complication of legalese. Cindy made the process relatively painless. She took the time to explain and answer questions without trying to upsell services. We were done in 2 meetings plus the reading of emailed drafts. In addition to preparing the documents, Nelson Eldercare will be there when our adult children need advice on executing the plans we’ve put in place.So glad it’s behind us and would recommend Cindy and her helpful staff.”

- Bonnie

Cindy and her company treat their clients like family. Nelson’s offers clear, direct, and honest guidance in planning for your families security and future. No one wants to actively sit down and make these decisions, but Nelson’s makes this process seamless. I was so impressed with their willingness to answer all questions big or small. So glad I made the decision have them help my mom and dad and now me. You can’t go wrong with Nelson’s Elder Care Law.

- Hope

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce