ASK THE LAWYER By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
This week’s question: CHOOSING A PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR YOUR
WILL: Should I appoint all of my children as Co-Personal Representatives of my Will?
QUESTION: I am getting my paperwork together to have my estate plan drawn up. I am thinking of appointing all three of my kids as Co-Personal Representatives of my Will. I don’t want one of my kids to feel left out or that I’m playing favorites. Can I legally appoint all three of my kids to handle my affairs after I’m gone?
ANSWER: The Personal Representative of your Will, (formerly called the Executor of the Administrator), once appointed by the Probate Court, is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the terms of your Will after you die. While you may legally
appoint multiple or Co-Personal Representatives, the real question is whether you should. In most cases, the answer is “no.” Michigan’s Estates and Protected Individuals Code grants wide powers to Personal Representatives to carry out your wishes as expressed in your Will. When there are Co-Personal Representatives, problems often arise because the Co-Personal Representatives, having equal powers, disagree on the manner in which to carry out your wishes. In many cases, the disagreements between Co-Personal Representatives become serious enough that litigation over the administration of the Estate arises, adding additional expense and reducing the value of the assets you worked so hard to accumulate. A better solution would be to appoint one of your children as Personal Representative with the other two as first and second successors. That way, one child has the authority to make the decisions that arise after you die. In the event other children are dissatisfied with his or her performance, they may file objections to the appointment in the Probate Court and, if successful, have the Personal Representative removed or replaced. Explain to your children the issues you are trying to avoid by appointing one child as Personal Representative with the other two acting as successors.
The lawyers at GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at http://gwinntauriainenlaw.com.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3310 facsimile