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How to decide on estate administration duties

Once an estate plan has been crafted and is nearing completion, Philadelphia families must turn their attention to determining who will be responsible for carrying out the tasks outlined within the plan. These decisions are just as important as those laid out within the estate plan itself, as estate administration is a crucial part of turning one's intentions into reality. Not everyone is well-suited to handle the administration of an estate, and the best candidates are not always the ones that immediately come to mind.

For example, many people assume that they should name their spouse as the party authorized to handle all matters related to the estate. However, there are many cases in which a surviving spouse is unsuited for that role. An example lies in a spouse who is played little to no role in the daily management of family finances. He or she may have the best of intent, but may lack the financial acumen needed to handle the multitude of tasks associated with estate administration.

In some cases, adult children are also poorly suited for the task at hand. Some have simply not reached the level of emotional or financial maturity needed to handle complex financial matters. Others allow their decision making to be ruled by emotion, and may not carry out the instructions outlined within the estate plan. That can lead to a great deal of tension between surviving family members, up to and including stressful and expensive probate litigation.

When determining who should be asked to handle estate administration duties, Philadelphia residents should broaden the scope of inquiry to include trusted friends and family members that might lie outside of the immediate family structure. In some cases, individuals who are slightly removed from the immediate family can maintain a degree of objectivity during the process of handling an estate and are unlikely to be motivated by intense emotion or grieving. Viewed from this perspective, designating such an individual may be a gift to a surviving spouse and children.

Source:, "Estate Planning: Choose the right person for the job", Matthew Wallace, Sept. 9, 2016

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