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What are the Responsibilities of a Personal Representative?

Senior woman meeting with an estate planning lawyer

Being chosen as the personal representative of a person’s will is both an honor and a responsibility. Along with the role comes certain duties. Before you accept those responsibilities and obligations, you should know exactly what you are taking on. Generally 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 choosing the type of probate, filing the will for probate, setting up an account to pay bills, paying estate debts and taxes, maintaining the willed property, making/filing an inventory with the court, distributing assets, and more. The role of a personal representative is no small task, so people who have accepted this role often find it helpful to work closely with an attorney during the process. 

What are the Duties of a Personal Representative?

Essentially, a personal representative’s duties 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 or be close friends of the deceased, but it is not all that common, as they are usually close family members.

The responsibilities of the personal representative are as follows:

  • File a copy of the will with the local probate court. The personal representative is usually in charge of finding, reading, and understanding the will. The will needs to be filed with the local probate court. At this time, the personal representative also determines who inherits the property.
  • Notify government agencies, banks, and creditors that the deceased has passed away. This includes agencies like the Social Security Administration and credit card companies the deceased may have been involved with. 
  • Decide what kind of probate is necessary. Probate is not always necessary, depending on the circumstances. The estate value may allow it to pass through an expedited process. If probate is required, a petition will need to be filed with the court in order to be appointed a personal representative. An attorney may be needed to accomplish this. 
  • Represent the estate. Part of your job may include representing the estate in court. 
  • Set up a bank account. There may be funds coming in, and you will want to set up an account for the estate to pay any obligations from. Be on the lookout for mortgage bills, utility bills, and anything else that may need to be paid through probate. 
  • Take an inventory of the estate, and file it with the probate court. This may be required by the court. 
  • Maintain the property. Part of your responsibility is to ensure any property in the estate is maintained until it is either distributed to an heir or sold. This may include keeping up a house, as well as any personal items in the estate.  
  • Pay the estate’s bills. It will fall to you, the personal representative, to make sure creditors are notified of the death and to ensure debts and taxes are paid. If the estate is large enough, there may be state and/or federal estate taxes to be paid as well.
  • Distribute assets. The will of the deceased should lay this out for you, and you’ll know who is supposed to get what in the estate. 
  • Dispose of other property. Any property or assets left after debts are paid and assets are distributed will fall upon you to get rid of. 

Contact The Mattar Firm for Your Estate Planning Needs

Estates vary in size and complexity. Being named the personal representative may be an easy job, or it may be complicated. Sometimes, the job may feel overwhelming, and you may feel like quitting, which is your right to do at any time in the process. However, speaking with an experienced estate planning lawyer, like those at The Mattar Firm, can make a difference and help make the process move along. Call 844-444-4444 today.

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