ESTATE PLANNING: Who will serve as personal representative?

2013-03-09T09:13:00Z ESTATE PLANNING: Who will serve as personal representative?Christopher W. Yugo Times Business Columnist
March 09, 2013 9:13 am  • 

Q: I don't have any family members that live close by. How can I find someone to serve as executor? Can the attorney act as executor?

A: Today, families are more mobile than ever. Sometimes our families move away for work. Other times people move away to retire or to find a warmer climate. I'm writing this on the eve of what I am told is going to be a major snow storm, so I certainly understand that.

Whatever the reason, people sometimes find themselves without family living close by. However, just because a loved one doesn't live close, it doesn't mean they can't serve as a personal representative.

Indiana, like many states, does not require that a personal representatives be a resident. You can name someone who lives outside of Indiana. The court will likely require that the non-resident personal representative name an agent within the state to receive service and to be subject to the court's jurisdiction. However, that's easily solved as the attorney will likely serve in that role.

Now don't get me wrong; naming a person who lives far away isn't ideal. The distance may slow things down a bit. There is going to be a lot of time lost to mailing. However, assuming that isn't too much of an issue, things should work out OK.

If you are reluctant to name an out of state personal representative, you might consider naming a local bank in your will. Many banks have trust departments that offer estate settlement services. Trust departments have a lot of expertise in estate administration. It's what I did for Centier Bank for a long time.

The down side to naming a bank is the fees. All that expertise doesn't come cheap. On the other hand, a bank's expertise means less reliance on the attorney and may result in a savings there. All in all, I think you get what you pay for, and a professional personal representative is worth the money.

If neither of those options seems particularly appealing, naming the attorney may be an option. Some attorneys will serve as a personal representative. I'm not aware of anything in the Rules of Professional Conduct that prohibits an attorney from serving as a personal representative.

Now I will tell you that it has been my experience that attorneys are often reluctant to serve in that capacity. Attorneys like to lawyer and serving as an administrator may interfere with that. You can certainly ask your attorney, but don't be too surprised if she says no.


Opinions are solely the writer's. Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Address questions to Yugo in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Yugo’s information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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