Hiring a Lawyer or Other Professional to Serve as Personal Representative

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Sometimes a judge may appoint a personal representative who is not a beneficiary. When this happens, the person appointed is usually a professional who does this sort of thing for a living, often a lawyer. Because it’s a job, the person gets paid. This is usually done when the only beneficiaries are all under 18, or for some reason no family member can act as P.R., or when there are strategic reasons for it.

Despite the cost, it’s sometimes a good idea to appoint a professional as a personal representative, rather than a member of the family. This is usually advantageous when a family is such that a jury may hesitate to award money if they think the family may squander it, or if the family member being considered is not a good administrator or decision maker. It can also be helpful when there is a high probability of serious squabbling between one potential P.R. and another. If two beneficiaries both want to be P.R., and neither trusts the other, sometimes they will both trust a professional, and hiring one is the best way for everyone to trust the process.

A hired personal representative is also in a good position to be able to explain to a jury that any money they award would go largely to the children, after they reach 18. A husband, wife, mother, or father can explain that too, of course, but it may be easier for a jury to believe a professional who has no personal stake in the money, but who can responsibly represent the family’s interests.