How to Choose a Personal Representative, Trustee and Agent

Simpson Law, PA.

Thanks for the fast turnaround; our very nice trip to Russia was made better knowing all this was taken care of with your professional expertise…we will keep you in mind in the future…and when we know someone else is looking for estate planning help.

--Steve, Silver Spring, Maryland

Thanks so much for everything…I gave your business card to 3 co-workers… I gave you the highest recommendation!

--Elizabeth, Fairfax, Virginia

Thanks again for your help and patience while we dragged our feet.

--Debbie,Potomac, Maryland

Getting a will written, designating a power of attorney - these are all tasks that I knew must be done - but I had been putting them on the back burner. Suzanne made the process simple, quick and painless. Everything was done professionally and in a timely manner. It brings me peace of mind to know that all this is taken care of!

--Nancy, President and Founder, Moms, Inc.

Thanks again for being so thorough…stay in touch.

--Donna, Reston, Virginia

I really appreciated all you did to make this so simple and speedy. You have done a great job incorporating all our various issues. I hope to have opportunities to send other clients your way.

--Caitlin, Laurel, Maryland

Suzanne handled the preparation and filing of all the estate documents for me, my husband, and our daughter. This included our wills, general powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and others. Her explanations were always clear and thorough. Suzanne also found a possible problem in the wording on the deed to our house--- and recommended a simple solution. We are so happy to now have everything in good order. Working with Suzanne was a personal and professional pleasure!

--Terry

Thanks for letting us bring the children!

--Jennifer, Boyds, Maryland

Thanks for making it so easy and coming to our house both times!

--Don, Olney, Maryland

Suzanne is honest and knowledgeable about estate law. She will guide you to what best fits your needs and your financial situation. She is also very family oriented and that means a lot to me.

-- Linda

Thanks a lot for your help!

--Jan, Fairfax, Virginia

Thanks for everything!

--Cindy, Olney, Maryland

I am a lawyer as well, but my family went to Suzanne several years ago to prepare our wills and related estate documents, and we were extremely pleased with her services. From my professional perspective, she is very intelligent and stays up-to-date on the current laws, and on a more personal note, she is a very warm and caring person.

--Melissa

I’m telling my friends about you!

--Suzanne, Olney, Maryland

Thanks for making it easy!

--Paula, Rockville, Maryland

We worked with Suzanne to develop an advanced directive and will. It was a pleasure working with her -- she was helpful, very well-informed, thoughtful, and understanding of our needs. She was able to lead us through the process with clear instructions and had obviously done her homework before we arrived so that the process was efficient, with minimal back and forth. She has developed a very specific approach to writing advanced directives that reduces ambiguity and provides tremendous reassurance that our wishes will be fulfilled. She dispelled some misconceptions we had about wills and trusts in a respectful, courteous and patient manner, without ever making us feel awkward or uncomfortable. We absolutely trust her judgment and her recommendations which are provided with a commendable balance of professionalism and warmth.

--Anne

I've been a client of Suzanne's for almost a decade and, with flexibility and compassion, she has worked with me to adapt my plan to meet my expectations. I trust her advice and highly recommend her services.

--Donna

I had a unique opportunity to observe Suzanne's interactions with a diverse group of colleagues over a year of her participation in Leadership Montgomery and based on that I choose her to prepare my estate plan and to advise me about the process. She is a good listener who is well-respected by her peers for her thoughtful insights and assessments. I decided to retain her to prepare my own estate plan and felt she handled my case with competence and integrity, making the process very comfortable and easy for me.

--Katalin

Suzanne prepared our wills and other estate documents after our child was born. She helped us think through the consequences of the decisions we made, including making sure we had contacted our choices for guardians. We really appreciated her flat-fee based billing too. We knew exactly how much to budget for her service. As a great bonus, with her quarterly newsletter, we get regular updates on relevant legal issues. We have recommended Suzanne many times in the past and will continue to do so. She's a great go-to person.

--Wendy

Suzanne Simpson is the best lawyer I have ever met. She helped me in a most difficult probate case made extremely complex by incompetence of involved parties. She handled the case with efficiency, integrity, know-how and compassion making the best out of a very complicated situation. Due to her knowledge and efficiency my case was resolved in a positive manner. I have not enough words in my vocabulary to express my trust and respect for her ability to successfully finalize a case which other lawyers had deemed to difficult to handle. Kudos for Suzanne Simpson, Esq.!!

--Marta

Ms. Simpson was our attorney helping us form a will and all the related documents that are important when you have a child -- and even when you don't. What can I say? She has it in all areas. First and foremost, she is an honest person and I always feel she is focused on giving us the best advice. She is highly knowledgeable and continues to go to seminars and keep up with the latest changes in the law -- of which there are many! Her service is impeccable: prompt, calling back ASAP, polite. And in all the while I have known her, she has never made any reference to any client. So I know my own info will be kept private. And her compassion is true, something you need and want when dealing with life and death issues.

--Michelle

Suzanne was easy to work with and very knowledgeable. She explained advantages and disadvantages of optional language and was very helpful in developing our wills, health directives and powers of attorney.

--Wills client

My husband and I were referred by our financial advisor to Simpson Law and from the first phone call to Suzanne Simpson we were handled in a professional manner-she clearly explained all of our options, the laws involved, we made our decisions and within the time frame that we requested. High Marks---we plan on recommending Simpson Law to all of our business partners, family and friends as well.

--Mary Joe

She does what it takes to get the job done. Suzanne is caring and compassionate which is helpful during the estate planning process which can be very emotional in some cases. She is a pleasure to work with and her fees are very reasonable, unlike many other attorneys.

--Susan

Read more testimonials

Choosing a personal representative, an agent for your financial and medical power of attorney, and the successor trustee of your revocable living trust is one of the more difficult parts of estate planning. Often you end up choosing the same person for each role, depending on the dynamics of your family and your particular circumstances. An agent under a durable power of attorney, appointment of health care agent, or a successor trustee, is the person who will handle specific decisions and issues on your behalf should you become incapacitated. A personal representative, or successor trustee, will handle your affairs upon your death. It’s a vital role, and choosing this special person should be handled with care and deliberation. In addition, it’s typically required for a second person to be named as an alternate in case the first person you name can’t serve in the role.

What Does the Personal Representative, Trustee and Agent Do?

A personal representative is named in your Last Will and Testament. This person is empowered to make decisions regarding finances, property, and administer the estate after your death if you die with a Will. If you have a revocable living trust, then your successor trustee would fill this role. You will also name an agent under your Medical Power of Attorney . This persona will make medical decisions based on your wishes as defined in the legal documents. Should you become unable to handle your own affairs during your life time, the person who you name as your agent under a durable power of attorney, or your named successor trustee if you have a revocable living trust, will make financial decisions on your behalf.

Tips for Selecting a Personal Representative, Trustee and Agent

Taking on responsibility for these roles can be difficult. The person you name must be someone who will follow your wishes and have your best interests at heart. This may put them in conflict with family, friends, or even beneficiaries who may disagree with certain decisions you wish to have made.

  • Impartiality: If possible, choose someone who will be viewed by family or beneficiaries as impartial and fair. This will help if disagreements arise and the person you name has to step in to settle the matter. Depending on family dynamics, it may even be best to choose a trusted friend, or outside person or entity, to act in this role to maintain impartiality.
  • Patient: It’s advised to choose someone who can be patient. The one you name could be put into a stressful or upsetting position. Sometimes the person you choose may become the most obvious target in a family dispute. So you may want to consider someone who can still remain patient and calm.
  • Confidence and Trust: The person in this role has a great deal of responsibility. This should be someone who you have complete trust and confidence in to carry out your wishes as you’d like to the extent possible. You will need to talk to the prospective persons you wish to name to make sure they understand what you’d like to have happen and ensure they can fulfill their role with confidence.