What Happens If You Get Named a Personal Representative?

To answer a Money Girl podcast listener question about being a personal representative, Laura interviews attorney Lauren Blair. They chat about planning your estate and being prepared to be an executor of someone's will after their death.

Laura Adams, MBA
2-minute read
Episode #725
The Quick And Dirty

Being named a personal representative, executor, or executrix for someone's will can be a complicated and long process, especially when you're also grieving the loss of a family member or friend. Understanding the jargon and potential duties can help you be more prepared for the role.

Kyann M. says, "My father passed away, and I became the executor of his will. He was married to my stepmother when she left him in June 2020 because he had dementia, and she didn't want to take care of him anymore. They lived in El Paso, and we filed for a partition agreement, which is like a legal separation in Texas.

I had his power of attorney and took care of all the bills, and was also named his executor. Later, I realized how unprepared I was for being an executor. I think it would be so helpful for you to explore in an upcoming podcast preparing to care for elderly parents and what to expect if you have to take over their estate. It's certainly been an eye-opener."

Kyann's question hit home because my father recently died, and my family had to deal with his estate and the probate court, even though he had a will. Handling an estate can be complicated and even more stressful because you're simultaneously grieving for a loved one. 

The estate and probate laws vary significantly depending on the state where you die, but typically allow plenty of time to complete the necessary paperwork. However, depending on the size of the estate and any outstanding legal issues, going through probate can take over a year. So, it's wise to get started as soon as you're ready to face it. 

In many cases, you need the advice of an attorney or should hire one to help you navigate the probate court. So I interviewed Lauren Blair, an attorney, writer, and litigation expert for FreeAdvice.com, who's practiced law for more than 25 years. Her article Personal Representative' Duties–What Are They? covers frequently asked questions about being named a personal representative, executor, or executrix, that everyone should know. 

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Lauren and I had a great conversation to answer Kyann's question and help Money Girl listeners understand the often complex legal responsibilities you may have after the death of a family member or friend. Here are a few topics we talk about on this week's show:

  • Explaining legal jargon of family and estate issues.
  • What essential emergency documents do you need to stay safe.
  • Tips for avoiding the probate court, when possible.
  • Why life insurance death benefits don't have to go through probate.
  • What to do if you get named as someone's personal representative for their will.
  • Whether you could get named as an executor without knowing it.
  • Resources for learning more about estate planning strategies.

Listen to the interview using the embedded audio player or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

What questions do you have about estate planning or managing one? Leave a voicemail for Laura by calling 302-364-0308. Follow her on Instagram and sign up for her weekly newsletter at LauraDAdams.com.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.