In Indiana personal representative, also referred to as an executor, is the individual appointed by the court or named in a will to handle the administration of another person’s estate. Personal representatives have multiple different responsibilities under this circumstance and it is important for anyone who has been appointed in this role to know that they do not have to legally accept this position. The rules related to the appointment of a personal representative in Indiana are memorialized in the Indiana Probate Code- IN Code § 29-1-10-1 et seq.
One of the most important reasons that most people will create their will in the estate planning process is to name a personal representative. The executor or personal representative’s primary job is to protect property until any debts or taxes have been paid and then transfer the remaining amounts over to those beneficiaries who are entitled to it. As an Indiana personal representative lawyer can tell you this might seem relatively straightforward but can become much more complex when it is difficult to locate assets, creditors, beneficiaries or other information related to the estate.
You’re not alone in handling this role even if it might feel that way once you’ve been appointed. You do have the right to get help with estate administration and there are many reasons to do so.
Understanding Personal Representative Laws in Indiana
Executors must meet a couple of specific requirements in Indiana to serve in this role. They must be of sound mind, meaning that they have not been judged incapacitated by a court. They must also be a minimum of 18 years old. You are not eligible to name an Indiana personal representative who has been convicted of a felony under state or federal law. Indiana probate courts can also reject potential executors who are identified as unsuitable.
While this is extremely rare, a formal hearing could be held in front of anyone who has an interest in that estate. At that hearing the judge uses the evidence to determine who is best suited to serve as personal representative. It is a good idea to choose a personal representative in Indiana who lives within the state, however, non-residents can serve as personal representatives if the non-resident posts bond and an in-state personal representative is appointed as co-executor, per Indiana code ANN.29-1-10-1.
Hiring a Personal Representative Attorney in Indiana
Experienced representation should be retained when there are questions over the administration of the estate or when the executor realizes that the circumstances are much more complicated than they expected. It is far better to educate yourself and to clarify the duties ahead of you than it is to wait until a beneficiary alleges that you have broken the law or acted inappropriately. There are so many different things to think about in these cases that it’s strongly recommended that you work with experienced counsel. A lawyer can help you sort through the various tasks to be completed as it relates to probate and can help you send out proper communication and accountings so that beneficiaries are informed about what is happening. This can decrease the possibility of conflicts and disputes related to probate and can make for a smoother probate administration process. No matter how you find yourself in these circumstances, know that you are entitled to use the services of an experienced personal representative attorney serving Indiana to ask your questions.
Most personal representatives are family members and friends and do not realize the extensive amount of work that goes into preparing for these circumstances. Keep track of all the things that your counsel has helped you with if you move forward with retaining outside counsel. This could prove fruitful in the future in the event that a beneficiary argues that you did not need to retain legal services.