If you are the personal representative of a loved one’s estate, you were either named as such in your loved one’s will or appointed by a court. Serving as a personal representative, sometimes called an executor, can be an honor. However, it is also a serious responsibility.
As a personal representative, you are responsible for managing your loved one’s final affairs. This can involve numerous steps, each with its own legal complexities.
Duties of a personal representative
Your duties as a personal representative will depend on the situation. However, some duties you may be responsible for, include:
- Finding your loved one’s assets
- Determining if probate is necessary
- Properly filing the will in probate court
- Paying off your loved one’s debts with your loved one’s money
- Filing your loved one’s income tax returns
- Distributing your loved one’s remaining property appropriately
Common mistakes to avoid
According to Forbes, many personal representatives make similar mistakes. Some of the biggest mistakes personal representatives make include failing to act, favoring one beneficiary over others and self-dealing.
As a personal representative, you have a fiduciary obligation to all the beneficiaries to move the estate through the probate process and treat them each fairly. Failing to act, favoring one beneficiary or self-dealing could be a breach of your obligation.
Another common mistake is forgetting that the personal representative has personal liability. This means that if you complete one of your responsibilities incorrectly or breach your fiduciary obligations, you could be required to use your personal assets to remedy the mistake.
Serving as a personal representative is an honor, but it can involve a lot of work. To avoid possible problems, it can be helpful to be sure that you completely understand your responsibilities, so you can successfully fulfill each of them.