If you are the personal representative of a loved one's estate, you were either named as such in your loved one's will or appointed by a court. Serving as a personal representative, sometimes called an executor, can be an honor. However, it is also a serious responsibility.
Many people have difficulty describing the difference between what a traditional estate planning attorney offers his or her clients versus what an elder law attorney offers his or her clients. The easy answer is that an estate planning attorney addresses the common issue of what happens to one's assets at death. In a traditional estate planning setting, much emphasis is placed on minimizing estate taxes, as well as insuring the most efficient and least restrictive means of transferring wealth to others.
In meeting with clients, a common question that surfaces is what happens to my home if I pass away and still owe a lender money. The easy answer is that the mortgage still needs to be paid, whether by a surviving joint owner of the property, personal representative of the estate of the decedent, or by the trustee of a trust if the property was owned by a trust. This is the case because the mortgage follows its collateral, the real estate, and not the person that has passed away.
Most people are willing to care for a parent or loved one without any promise of compensation. Not that this unconditional love should go unrecognized, but what if the caregiver could be fairly compensated and the recipient of the care could be spending down his or her assets in a permissible way so that the elder may be able to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage in the future.