Here are further responsibilities, based on the law in Arizona, but pertinent no matter where you live in the U.S.
- Provide an inventory of assets. This is where having an attorney with some experience comes in handy to help you classify different types of assets, especially personal property like furniture, ceramics or porcelain and photographs.
- Comply with the applicable standards of care. As personal representative, you are required to perform duties with prudence, reasonable care and caution.
- Keep detailed records. Keep and maintain records of everything: copies of checks, receipts, bills. Everything. You need to be able to prove where every dollar goes. So, avoid dealing in cash.
- Pay valid debts and expenses. There’s a specific procedure for determining whether a debt is valid. This takes into account all the debt and how to treat creditors equally as part of a personal representative’s fiduciary duty.
- Pay applicable taxes. Always pay applicable taxes before paying creditors and distributing assets.
- Distribute remaining assets. After all taxes and expenses have been paid, the remainder of assets can be distributed as the will has specified.
- Change the address of the estate. Until probate is closed and you complete your role as personal representative, you must notify the court in writing if you move or if your mailing address changes.
- Document payment your receipt of payment as personal representative. It’s important to document meticulously the time you’ve spent and the expenses you’ve incurred when seeking reimbursement from the estate you’re managing.
- Court involvement. The court prefers minimal involvement in settling estates where a personal representative has been appointed, but will get involved if the estate is not closed within two years.
To be sure your wishes are carried out, carefully select a personal representative for your estate. A little extra planning now can protect your family’s future. You can read more about a personal representative’s duties here.
If you have any questions about the duties of a personal representative, I’d love to help.