The executor or personal representative of an estate has control over the estate and is responsible for settling the debts of the estate, and distributing estate assets to beneficiaries as dictated by the decedent’s last will and testament. The personal representative acts as a fiduciary. The legal definition of a fiduciary is: An individual in whom another has placed the utmost trust and confidence to manage and protect property or money.
Fiduciary Duty is the Highest
A fiduciary has a duty to avoid any conflicts of interest and to avoid doing anything to benefit himself at the expense of those who should rightfully benefit from the property he is managing. This means that the personal representative cannot take assets for himself which were not designated to be his by the decedent. The fiduciary must account for his actions and expenditures and must endeavor to protect and maximize the estate assets.
Choosing a Personal Representative
When designating a personal representative, it is important to choose someone with whom you have the utmost trust. If you want to avoid any possible temptation to your friends or family members, or you don’t want to offend anyone by your choice, you can designate a professional personal representative. A professional will charge fees to the estate but will likely be faithful to the fiduciary duties because it is his job to do so.
Getting Legal Help
Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman can help you choose a personal representative who you can trust to provide the most ethical financial management. Call us today at 973-841-5111 to learn more.