The individual named as a personal representative plays a crucial role in successfully administering an estate. Often, however, the personal representative performs her or his important duties while grieving the loss of a loved one. In addition, the person named as personal representative may never have been in this position before and may feel overwhelmed.
In July of this year, reports emerged analyzing the last will and testament of James Gandolfini, the star of the popular Sopranos who passed away while on vacation in Italy just a month earlier. The publication of his will fueled a public debate over the wisdom of the will's drafting as far as taxes are concerned, with commentators arguing that the will could result in higher estate taxes being paid by the heirs than necessary. As co-executors, Mr. Gandolfini's wife, sister and lawyer are responsible for resolving any issues arising in the course of carrying out the deceased's testamentary wishes.