If you have been appointed to be the personal representative of a loved one's or friend's estate, you may be feeling confused right now. Being appointed is an honor, and the duties are not as difficult as you might think. For a simple guide on what is expected of personal representatives (or executors), read on.
Oversee the Final Arrangements
If you are not part of the family, let them take the lead when it comes to the funeral and burial. In some cases, the deceased has already made these arrangements directly with the funeral home. In that case, it is likely already paid for too.
Locate and File the Will
You can often find a will somewhere in the home of the deceased — often in a desk, lock-box, safe, or filing cabinet. Some, however, will use a bank box for their last will and testament. Once located, make an appointment with the estate or probate lawyer. It should be noted that you can use any lawyer you like; you don't necessarily have to use the one that helped write the will. The lawyer will file the will and also place an ad in a local paper alerting creditors to the probate case.
Certification of the Personal Representative
One of the first acts of the probate court is to officially appoint a personal representative for the estate. In addition, they will take steps to make sure that the will is truly the last will and testament of the deceased. Witnesses and signatures will be checked. Then, the will is cheeked for legality. If a lawyer was used to create the will, it will probably be judged legal. Some people who make their wills on their own, however, tend to add illegal provisions that can create problems.
Inventory and Preserving the Estate
Now it's time for the personal representative to make a list of all major items in the estate and include professional appraisal values when needed. They are also responsible for ensuring that the home and other things stay safe and maintained during probate. That can mean paying certain bills or doing needed repairs.
Distribution to Beneficiaries
In most cases, this the final job of the personal representative. After probate is final, any property left to beneficiaries can be distributed. This is done by providing the beneficiaries with death certificates so they can either take the property or have it transferred to their name.
This is just a quick overview of duties, so speak to an estate or probate attorney to find out more.