Choosing the best estate representative for your Illinois estate

A good estate representative can ensure the smooth running of your estate after your death.

When you think about your will, it is only natural to focus on how you would like your estate to be divided. Although this is an important aspect, it is just as important to ensure that you have a competent person to serve as your estate representative (also known as executor), in order to ensure that your estate is efficiently managed during the probate process after your death. A failure to do so can lead to a mismanagement of your assets or estate litigation in certain cases.

In Illinois, estate representatives have a wide variety of important duties after your death, including:

• Filling and proving your will

• Gathering and managing (and liquidating in some cases) your probate assets

• Notifying and paying all valid claims of all creditors of your death

• Filing lawsuits on your estate's behalf (if needed)

• Preparing and filing tax returns

• Accounting for the estate's assets

• Distributing the estate assets to your beneficiaries according to your will

Who is right for the position?

Since the role of estate representative is a major one, it is important to ensure that you choose someone that can handle the duties well. When you are thinking about whom you would like to serve as your estate representative, experts offer these tips:

• Do not make the mistake of choosing your representative based solely on his or her relation to you. Instead, like any job, it is better to select someone based on their skills and abilities. Due to the duties involved, someone with a financial or legal background would be ideal (however, this is optional).

• One of the largest duties of representatives is dealing with bills, which often requires a lot of paperwork (especially medical bills). As a result, it is important to select someone with the patience and time to deal with this often frustrating task.

• Select someone who is good at dealing with conflict, as this is inherent in the estate administration process.

• If your estate is very large or complex, or you do not know of a suitable candidate, consider hiring an attorney experienced in probate administration matters to serve as your estate representative. Doing so can ensure that the special needs of your estate are adequately addressed and familial conflicts are minimized.

Once you have chosen your representative, ask them if they would be willing to accept the position. To address the possibility that your choice may become unable or unwilling to carry out the role by the time of your death, make sure to name an alternate estate representative in your will.

An attorney can advise you

When choosing an estate representative, it is important to have the advice of a experienced estate planning attorney. With 15 years of estate planning experience, attorney Michael Overmann has significant experience working with estate representatives and can advise you further on this important decision.