Where to Start with Your Will

People often hesitate to create their will because it can seem like an overwhelming task to decide where you want your property to go after you pass away. There are many things to think about, and people sometimes put off these decisions because they are just not certain about everything.

For this reason, it is often a good idea to first decide on an personal representative. Some states call this role “executor,” but Oregon uses the term “personal representative.” Many people think this is a minor concern.  However, it is one of the most important decisions you make when planning your estate. The personal representative of your estate can have a major impact on what will happen with your estate, as MarketWatch discusses in “When you write your will, don’t mess this up.”

The personal representative of an estate has many important tasks and duties. The job requires that assets be accounted for, debts be paid and that assets then be distributed under the guidance of the probate court.

Filing tax returns with the IRS is another important task for which the personal representative is responsible.  Mistakes on these tax returns can create numerous problems for your estate. The IRS will seek to collect any unpaid amount, including penalties and fees, but it may not go after the estate alone.

The IRS might seek to collect the money from the personal representative personally, since personal representatives can be held personally liable. If that occurs, both the estate and the personal representative will have a big mess to deal with.  For that reason, it is important to choose an personal representative you trust and who can carefully handle these tasks.

Of course, it is best to get an estate plan from an attorney who specializes in creating them. If you are not sure who to name as an personal representative, ask your attorney for advice.

Reference: MarketWatch (June 13, 2018)  “When you write your will, don’t mess this up.”

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