If you or someone you know has been appointed the personal representative (or executor) of an estate, you may be confused and feel overwhelmed. Read below for a quick summary of what may be expected of you in the coming months as you handle the probating of the deceased's will.
A personal representative is typically appointed by the deceased person in their will or by the court if there is no will or if the appointed executor is unable or unwilling to fulfill the role. The executor plays a crucial role in the probate process and carries out various responsibilities to settle the estate.
Gather and Inventory Assets
One of the executor's first tasks, once the will is filled with the probate court, is to locate, gather, and inventory all the assets of the deceased person's estate. This may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and other valuable items. The probate court requires this inventory to determine the overall value of the estate for tax and other purposes.
Manage Estate Finances
The executor is responsible for managing the financial affairs of the estate during the probate process. This includes tasks such as opening a bank account for the estate, paying outstanding debts, managing ongoing expenses (such as mortgage payments or utility bills), and ensuring that estate taxes, if applicable, are paid.
Settle Debts and Claims
The executor must identify and settle any outstanding debts, claims, or liabilities against the estate. This may involve communicating with creditors, reviewing claims, negotiating settlements, and making payments from the estate's assets. However, working closely with a probate lawyer is necessary when spending estate money to pay debts or for any other purpose.
Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries
Once all debts, taxes, and expenses are settled, the executor is responsible for distributing the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or the intestacy laws if there is no will. This may involve selling property, transferring ownership of assets, or distributing funds.
Keep Detailed Records
Throughout the administration process, the executor must maintain accurate and detailed records of all financial transactions, communications, and distribution of assets. These records are essential in providing an accounting to the probate court and keeping beneficiaries informed.
Speak to the probate attorney chosen to guide the will through probate court. They will advise you on your duties. Everything you do for the probate court must pass through your probate attorney and they will file the appropriate paperwork with the court. Learn more by speaking with a probate lawyer.
Find out more by speaking with a probate law attorney near you.