Don’t Give Up Your Power. Act as Executor For a Loved One’s Estate!

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

A Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Explains Why You Should Act as Personal Representative Instead of Allowing Someone Else to Do It

I have been fielding a lot of calls (multiple a week) from people who had the right to act as the executor (personal representative) for the estate after the death of a loved one. But, they gave up that right an allowed another to step in. They are now calling me as they don’t believe that the person now acting as executor handled things properly and want to know what to do about it.

This is really common with siblings left behind after the death of a parent. Under Minnesota law, the person appointed in a will has priority to act as the personal representative. If there is no will, the law sets out the priorities to act. I will use the most common situation I encounter. Mom died, she was the last remaining parent to die, leaving two children behind and no will. Under Minnesota probate law, both siblings have the right to act as personal representative. If they both want to act, the court will appoint them as co-personal representatives meaning they both sign everything and act together.

But, the sister decides to step aside and let her brother (or someone else entirely) act as the personal representative. There are many reasons why she may do this: 

  1. She lives in another state and worries she will have to travel here.
  2. She feels it’s too complicated.
  3. The sister is really busy and doesn’t think she has the time.
  4. The brother bullies her into it.
  5. She doesn’t think there’s anything in the estate worth pursuing.
  6. She simply doesn’t want to act as personal representative in a Minnesota Probate proceeding.

My warning to her – and you – is DON’T DO IT! Don’t give up that power. Too often the sister ends up calling an attorney within a few years because she hasn’t seen any of the money or property that she knows was in Mom’s estate.

Acting as personal representative can be time consuming and difficult but it is the only way to ensure that you know everything that’s going on with the estate. You are there to account for every penny, watch, work of art or other item you care about.

I’m not suggesting that anyone acting as a default personal representative starts out to hide or steal assets, but it does happen. In many cases, the person who stepped aside had a feeling it was a bad idea and did it anyway. I’m here to say again DON’T GIVE UP YOUR POWER. The law is on your side and there are qualified Minnesota probate attorneys here to help walk you through the process.

Minnesota Probate Attorney

Call Unique Estate Law now and get some guidance on how to retain the power to take care of your loved one’s last wishes and ensure  you are protected!

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.