As a personal representative of an estate, you may be concerned about how to move forward. The following are tips for how to be a better personal representative of an estate.
What does a personal representative do?
A personal representative is a person selected by you to carry out your wishes which are contained in your will and estate plan, which includes administering your estate once you have passed away. Generally speaking, a personal representative’s duties are to carry out the instructions of the decedent as outlined in the will and manage the affairs of the deceased person’s estate as prescribed by law.
The personal representative’s basic responsibilities include:
- The location and collection of assets.
- The preservation of estate assets until they can be distributed to the named beneficiaries.
- The payment of the decedent’s funeral expenses and just debts, as well as the estate administration expenses.
- The handling of all estate, inheritance, and income tax matters relating to the decedent and his or her estate, including the filing of final income tax returns, and any required state inheritance tax or federal estate tax returns, and payment of any taxes owed from the decedent’s assets.
- The distribution of the remaining estate assets in accordance with the terms of the will.
Tips on how to be a better personal representative
- As a personal representative, you must follow what’s written in the will. If your goal is to deviate from what the will says for any reason, you will be required to ask the court for approval. An attorney will assist you in making sure you are representing the interests of every beneficiary on the will.
- You need to secure the estate as soon as possible after you become the personal representative. That may mean changing locks or finding missing assets. You will want to inform heirs and creditors as soon as possible as well, so you can begin to dole out the appropriate compensation.
- Communication will make you a better personal representative. The process of splitting an estate, even when a will is in place, can take months. Making sure the beneficiaries know when the process will be complete is key to managing expectations. By staying transparent in your actions, you can make sure you keep control, even if multiple people are trying to influence your decisions.
Help is available
Consulting an attorney regarding how to properly perform your responsibilities as a personal representative is usually a good idea. Getting proper legal advice at the outset is often less expensive than trying to fix problems you may have created by not understanding how to properly administer the estate. The estate planning attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are ready to assist you. For more information, please visit our website or call 586-726-1000.