Choosing a Personal Representative

Can an individual residing out of state act as my executor?

A last will and testament, commonly known as a will, is a document that instructs those left behind on the way in which a deceased individual would like his financial and personal matters to be administered. A well thought-out will specifies the distribution of assets and guardianship of minor children, as well as funeral or burial arrangements.

The will also names a personal representative, also referred to as an executor, who is responsible for administering the estate. Choosing an executor requires careful consideration because this individual must be capable and trustworthy in order to handle your affairs. It is also important for the executor to work with your estate planning attorney to ensure your wishes are carried out and to minimize the potential for disputes among loved ones and other beneficiaries.

Indiana Requirements for a Personal Representative

In order to be named as a personal representative of an estate in Indiana, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and cannot be incapacitated. A person who has a physical illness, impairment or infirmity, however, may still be eligible to serve as an executor. Further, an individual convicted of a felony or deemed unsuitable by the court cannot be named as executor.

Naming an Individual outside the State of Indiana

While the state permits an individual residing outside of Indiana to be named as a personal representative, the law imposes additional requirements. In addition to meeting all of the above-mentioned conditions, an out-of-state executor must also post a bond and appoint a "resident agent." The role of the agent is to accept service of process, notices and documents. The law requires the appointment of a resident agent to ensure that personal representative will be bound by the jurisdiction of the probate court.

Pros and Cons of an Out-of-State Personal Representative

An individual who is naming a personal representative should choose the person who is most qualified and, in some cases, the executor will be living in another state. This option should be carefully considered, however. Though you are free to choose who you want, regardless of where he or she lives, this individual may need to travel to attend meeting and hearings, which could lead to delays. Furthermore, relying on the mail for papers and pleadings to be signed and returned can also slow down the probate process.

That being said, these hurdles can be overcome provided that the person named as personal representative is responsible and trustworthy. In the final analysis, it is important to name the right person for the job, one who also will work well with your estate planning attorney.

Posted in Estate Planning

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