Understanding the Role of Personal Representative in Probate

One of the most important parts of estate planning is picking who will represent you after you die or when you are not able to manage things on your own. 

Enter a personal representative. 

As the name suggests, a probate and estate administration attorney will represent you after your death or you become incapacitated. They have the responsibility for managing your estate and handling it through probate. 

Also known as an executor, a personal representative generally performs many duties as the executor of a deceased person’s estate, including arranging funeral services, informing those who inherit the estate’s property, and figuring out the value of the estate after deducting all debts. 

Besides, they handle all debts and expenses owed by the deceased and the estate and manage income-tax and estate-tax liabilities. They file all required tax returns on time and distribute assets as mentioned in the will.

This way, a personal representative takes charge of the management and security of estate property. 

Although probate laws might vary from state to state, the responsibilities of a personal representative will typically cover a wide range of tasks given below. 

 

Locating Assets:

The topmost priority of any personal representative is to locate and collect the assets. 

The definition of assets goes beyond real estate and stock investments to any property of value and other belongings. Life insurance and certain retirement accounts with beneficiary status are transfer directly to the beneficiaries through the legal process, so they wouldn’t be counted among probate assets. 

The duty a personal representative is to locate, collect, and manage all the assets of the deceased. They might be asked to appraise the assets to determine the worth. 

However, this is a critical task and should be done carefully. For example, if a personal representative discovers an old piece of furniture and discards it, they can be tried under the estate for breach of fiduciary duty if it’s later found that those pieces of furniture was a valuable antique. 

 

Locating Your Creditors:

The personal representative is also required to identify the creditors and pay off their debts. 

This is generally done by running notices in the newspaper to notify all enterprises, lenders, and individuals to whom a deceased person might owe funds. 

They have the right to make their claims to the estate to clear off their debts. Besides, a written notice can be sent by your personal representative to all creditors to notify them. 

 

Filing Lawsuits:

Sometimes, the personal representative might file lawsuits to protect assets, regain them, or defend them against the illegal possession. They can file the right lawsuits or use certain legal remedies. 

For example, if the employer of the deceased hasn’t paid the wages earned by the deceased, the personal representative is entitled to take legal action to retrieve the amounts due. 

    

Arranging for the Funeral Services:

Making funeral arrangements is also one of the key responsibilities of any personal representative.  

Often the departed person has disclosed their wishes to their beloved ones and family agrees to make those arrangements. The law requires the personal representative to decide on the arrangements when agreement cannot be reached. Sometimes there are particular funeral arrangements mentioned in the will—to be cremated, to be buried, or other ways. However, these directions are not actually binding. 

A personal representative has to be more careful when it comes to spending on a funeral. They need to understand that it is not reasonable to spend $30,000 on funeral arrangements if they have a $60,000 estate. 

Otherwise, they can be held liable for overspending as well as answerable to the beneficiaries. For example, the heirs can take this to the court that decides whether the spending can be justified. If the court finds that the spending doesn’t make sense, you will be held responsible. That’s why it’s a good idea for a personal representative to involve others in the decision making process. 

Staying close to what a deceased persona mentioned in their will is a good idea, but if the will doesn’t stipulate funeral arrangements, the personal representative should consult with their family members to find what they want. 

Applying for a grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration

A personal representative is also required to obtain a grant of probate or grant of Letters of Administration. And this should be done as soon as possible. 

Part of this process includes identifying the assets and liabilities of the estate, and the worth of the same, as at the date of death. 

 

But The Role Also Includes Some Challenges:

So you must have understood the role of a personal representative. He or she is equipped with many responsibilities to act in the interest of the estate. 

However, they are also responsible for the unpleasant outcomes arising from their negligence. For example, they can be sued for failing to file or pay a tax return on time. Therefore, they have to be extremely careful while exercising any of the rights given to them. 

For more details feel free to contact Colbert Law Center or you may call us on given phone number 301 576-6200. Leave a comment and share your views on the article.