The Responsibilities of the Personal Representative of Your Estate

Many people are named the personal representative of a loved one’s estate by virtue of the fact they are a close relative such as the adult son or daughter of the person making the will.  While the person named is most likely someone the person making the will trusts, the named personal representative may not be well versed in all of the requirements of administering a will.  As a personal representative, it is important to know all of your duties and responsibilities.

Basically, once appointed by the court, the personal representative is responsible for taking care of all of the assets, debts, and taxes that remain when a person dies.  The representative must also provide proper notice to all interested parties.  Meaning that beneficiaries, as well as creditors, must be notified that the will or estate is being subjected to probate. Then the representative must complete and inventory the estate and ensure that the assets are safely secured. The representative must pay applicable debts of the estate as well as settle any outstanding disputes related to the estate. Their duties typically also include filing final income tax return for the estate.

The personal representative must also distribute the estate to beneficiaries and prepare an accounting report of the distribution.  Depending on the complexity of the estate, the personal representative may have numerous challenges safeguarding the estate and its interest while also protecting those of the estate’s beneficiaries.  There can also be matters pertaining to an estate’s business and operation while the probate process is proceeding.  Additionally, the representative may have to contend with other business-related matters.

The probate process can be confusing and complicated especially for someone unfamiliar with its requirements and intricacies.  When acting as a personal representative, it is important to be well informed about the requirements of your position as well as how to perform your role in a manner which honors the person who designated you to this position.

The advice of an experienced estate planning attorney would be invaluable under these circumstances.  We have experience with the probate process and understand the law pertaining to estate administration. Please contact us if we may be of assistance.

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