You are now the Representative in the Administration of an Estate—What Now?
When a friend or family member passes away naming you as Personal Representative of their estate, it can be difficult to focus on both grieving and fulfilling your legal duties. You may feel overwhelmed because, amid making funeral arrangements, you must also contend with the unfamiliar responsibilities as Personal Representative. This blog post will provide a quick overview of some of the responsibilities of a Personal Representatives during the administration of an estate.
Let’s first establish what it means to be a Personal Representative. When a friend or family member dies and leaves a will, the will names someone to act as Personal Representative of their estate. The Personal Representative, sometimes called an “executor” or “administrator,” is in charge of administering, settling, and closing the estate. The administration of an estate can involve a lot of time and work, so it’s likely that you will know you will be the Personal Representative before someone dies.
In general, it’s very important that a Personal Representative maintains organized records throughout the entire administration process. The Personal Representative should keep any receipts, check stubs, or other evidence of payments on behalf of the estate. This may include payments to a funeral home, mortgage payments, court fees, utility bills, and more. In addition to keeping those records, the Personal Representative should try to keep them organized, and take notes about them. The administration of an estate usually takes a few months, and it can be difficult to remember details about certain payments without writing them down. Often a Personal Representative will pay some expenses out-of-pocket, for which they will get reimbursed by the estate. But it makes the administration of the estate much easier if the Personal Representative has taken notes that clearly identify which payments were made by the Personal Representative and which were made with funds from the estate.
In addition, the Personal Representative must also complete certain requirements before the estate can be closed. The Personal Representative is responsible for identifying and protecting the estate’s assets. To do this, the Personal Representative will often facilitate the appraisal of all assets in the estate. Some of these assets may be subject to estate tax and the probate process, so it’s important to have a complete value of the estate. The Personal Representative also has the responsibility of notifying creditors and facilitating the payment of any outstanding debts on behalf of the decedent. This process usually includes a notice in the local newspaper. Next, the Personal Representative must ensure that the proper tax documents have been filed for the last year of the decedent’s life. Finally, the Personal Representative must oversee the distribution of the estate assets to the beneficiaries, after which the estate can be closed. Within each of the aforementioned steps there are many detailed requirements to abide by, and the administration process can become lengthy.
Even with a quick introduction to the responsibilities of a Person Representative, these responsibilities can be difficult to complete without a lot of time or understanding. An attorney at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys at Law, LLC can help guide you through the administration process.