If you are wondering about changing your personal representative (or executor) of a will after the fact, KAKE.com’s recent article entitled “How to Change the Executor of a Will” says that the process is pretty simple. Even so, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to make certain that it is completed correctly, and it’s legal.
The personal representative (or PR) of a will is the individual you name to be responsible for carrying out the terms of your will. By designating a PR, you’re giving him or her the authority to handle certain tasks related to the distribution of your estate. In Florida, your personal representative must be a resident of Florida or related to you.
It’s okay to name a beneficiary of your will a personal representative. A personal representative must undertake certain tasks, such as the following:
- Getting death certificates
- Starting the probate process
- Making an inventory of the decedent’s assets
- Notifying the decedent’s creditors of his or her death
- Paying any outstanding debts and closing bank accounts; and
- Distributing assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.
The personal representative can’t change the terms of the will. They can only make sure that its terms are carried out. A PR can be paid a fee for their services, which can be a percentage of the value of the estate or a reasonable hourly rate. State laws vary on this compensation approach.
There are a few reasons why changing your personal representatives may be necessary, such as if:
- Your original PR dies or becomes seriously ill and can’t fulfill his or her duties
- You named your spouse as PR but you divorce
- The individual you originally designated as PR no longer wants the responsibility or is not a resident of Florida
- Your relationship with your PR has deteriorated; and
- You think someone else would be better equipped to administer your will.
Note that you don’t need to give a specific reason for changing your personal representative. There are two ways to do this: (i) add a codicil to an existing will; or (ii) draft a brand-new will. A codicil is a written amendment that you can use to change only the provisions of your will needing changes without having to write a new one. The codicil must be executed with the same formalities as your original will.
If you need to change more than just changing your personal representative, you might want to draft a new will, which entails the same process as the one you followed when making your original one. You should also destroy all copies of the original will to avoid confusion and potential challenges to the terms of the will after you die. It’s wise to use an experienced estate planning attorney to help you replace an existing will and when changing your personal representative.
Reference: KAKE.com (Dec. 29, 2020) “How to Change the Executor of a Will”