Estate planning has several crucial components. One important step is naming a personal representative in your will. A personal representative has the responsibility of managing your estate after you pass. And it’s no simple task. The person you name should be capable and willing to take on the responsibility. But what happens if you forget to choose someone?

Appointed by the state

If you don’t name a personal representative, the state of California will choose someone and appoint a personal representative for you. Generally, a court will select a close family member such as your surviving spouse or children.

While this method may not pose a huge problem, it doesn’t necessarily fulfill your wishes as to who you’d like to oversee your estate. Naming a personal representative yourself ensures that you have control over finding the best fit for the role.

Who makes a good personal representative?

California law requires that your personal representative be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the United States. A court will then decide whether your personal representative is of sound mind and body to administer the estate and manage your assets.

Aside from those stipulations, an ideal candidate might have any of the following characteristics:

  • Comfortability or experience with handling finances
  • Organization skills
  • A certain level of responsibility
  • Ability to meet deadlines or work in a timely manner
  • Ability to work well with others
  • A willingness to carry out your wishes

Benefits of naming a personal representative

Aside from ensuring your wishes are carried out in the manner you would like, choosing a personal representative can help the estate management process run smoothly. Probate can be stressful and overwhelming. But with the right personal representative, it doesn’t have to be. Knowing who will serve as your personal representative can also help maintain family unity during this difficult time.

A court will choose someone with the ability to handle your estate if you don’t name your own personal representative. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be someone capable of ensuring the safety, security and contentment of your family.

When you personally name a trusted friend or family member who is able and willing to serve as your personal representative, you maintain control over how you’d like your estate to be managed, even when you aren’t there to manage it yourself.