An important element of estate planning may be understanding that whoever one chooses to serve as their personal representative could be in store in handling matters related to the role. That can go far beyond the duties involved with administering one’s assets. In cases where an estate has intellectual or artistic properties (or notoriety in and around St. Louis is associated with the decedent), a personal representative may be called on months and even years after the decedent’s death to protect their interests (or, in some cases, their reputation).
It is an alleged attack on the reputation of the late signing icon Michael Jackson that has spurred representatives of his estate into action. A documentary highlighting the stories of two men who claim that Jackson molested them is set to air on the Home Box Office channel in the coming months, and Jackson’s estate is claiming that the network is acting recklessly in airing the film. Jackson’s estate representative claims that the makers of the film made no attempt to contact any members of Jackson’s family to refute the mens’ stories, and that they significant evidence exists that contradicts their claims. He also claims that at least one of the men might have personal motives for damaging Jackson’s reputation. Despite requests by Jackson’s estate to look into the accusers’ backgrounds before airing the film, the network reportedly plans to show it as planned.
Given the commitment that a personal representative is asked to assume in fighting for the interests of an estate, one should be sure that the person they ask to do it is up to the task. Having access to an experienced estate planning attorney during the process of choosing a personal representative may help in making this important decision.