A good estate plan covers key life decisions such as what happens to your home and other assets if you die. It also addresses who will care for your children and financial assets if you pass away. Your personal representative will be the one to make the necessary decisions to carry out your wishes.
The role of personal representative is a big responsibility. Settling the estate of a deceased person requires attention to detail. It’s important to select someone who is qualified for this position regardless of your net worth.
Specific duties and responsibilities can vary slightly from state to state. I practice in Arizona, but in this two-part overview, you’ll be able to get a sense of the duties of a personal representative, regardless of where you live in the United States.
- Act as personal representative. Perform fiduciary duty of fairness and impartiality to the beneficiaries and to the creditors, to be cautious and prudent in dealing with the state assets.
- Gather, control and manage estate assets. This is not moving into the deceased parent’s house and taking over assets for personal use. The personal representative oversees the execution of the will and makes sure that the assets are distributed according to the will.
- Provide notice of the appointment. You will need to notify your state’s revenue department and all of the heirs and devisees that you have been appointed. These heirs and devisees have four months to contest the probate.
- Provide notice of the admission of the will to probate. This is a form that gets filed with the court and delivered to those involved in the estate. It explains the duties and responsibilities of a personal representative.
- Mail copies of the order to the personal representative. You must mail copies of the order to the personal representative to the heirs and devisees.
- File proof of compliance. A notarized statement must be filed with the court affirming that the order to the personal representative was sent out.
- Publish notice to creditors with the court. You will need to notify creditors that they have a certain period of time to file a claim and give them instructions on how to file and pursue being paid.
- Protect assets. It is your responsibility to secure and keep valuables safe.
- Determine whether there are any statutory allowances. Statutory allowances can include a homestead allowance, exempt property allowance and a family allowance.
We will continue with this list in our next post. This is an important part of estate-planning. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does help if you have a sense of what the roles and responsibilities of a personal representative are.