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5 Things to Consider Before Becoming Personal Representative of an Estate

Last Will and Testament

Being chosen as the personal representative of a person’s will is both an honor and a responsibility. Along with it come certain duties. Before you accept those responsibilities and obligations, you should know exactly what you are taking on. Broadly speaking, you will be distributing the deceased person’s property and arranging for payment of estate debts and expenses. Duties specific to this role include filing the will for probate, setting up an account for paying bills and taxes, maintaining the willed property, making and filing an inventory with the court, distributing assets, and more. It is no small task to take on being a personal representative. 

Essentially, the duties of a personal representative involve sorting out the deceased’s finances by making sure debts are paid, and heirs receive what is coming to them. Personal representatives tend to be close family members, like children, parents, siblings, or spouses. Personal representatives may be paid, but it is not all that common, as they are usually close family members. 

The Complexity of the Estate

There is more to being a personal representative than just reading a will. As a personal representative, you are essentially representing the estate in all matters, both legal and otherwise. It is your job to contact creditors, work with the court, and ensure the estate plan is followed. If the estate is complex and large, these are significant responsibilities to take on. Even if it is a small estate can become problematic to deal with, especially if the will or estate is being contested.

Time Commitment

Being the personal representative of an estate takes time and attention to detail. It is a time-consuming job. If you are considering taking on this role, you may want to consider whether you will have time to do the job properly. It may be worth thinking about this while the testator is still alive, if changes need to be made. 

Immediate Responsibilities

It may seem like you will not have to worry about the duties of being a personal representative for a long time. However, the job starts as soon as you accept it. For instance, you really will not know when you will be called upon to distribute the estate, as death can be unpredictable. You will need to be ready since your legal responsibility could be called upon at any time. There are some things you should do while the testator is still alive. For instance, make sure they are keeping a current list of their debts and creditors. Know where the will is being kept and how to access it. You may also want to discuss funeral arrangements, what the will says, and what role various professionals may play in the process. 

After Death

Once the testator dies, the real work of being the personal representative begins. You may have to make funeral arrangements, locate, and file the will, clear probate, manage assets, clear any debts, file tax returns, establish/manage any trusts, and more. 


You may be paid for the work you are putting in. There are several ways this could happen. It may be hourly, a flat fee, or a percentage of the estate. The fee may be determined by the probate court judge. If you are a close family member, you may choose not to be paid. 

Again, it is an honor to be chosen as an personal representative of an estate. It means the person who is asking you trusts you implicitly. However, it is still worth considering everything that goes into it and deciding if it is the right role for you. If you have questions about the responsibilities of being a personal representative or are looking to appoint someone, call the experienced state planning and probate lawyers at The Mattar Firm, today. 239-222-2222.


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