If you are serving as the personal representative of a loved one’s estate, you could have been selected in one of two ways. If your loved one made a legally valid will, he or she may have chosen you to manage his or her final affairs. If there is no will, a court may have appointed you.
Whether your loved one or a court appointed you, serving as a personal representative can be a great honor. However, it can also be time-consuming and involve a lot of work.
Duties of a personal representative
As a personal representative, you are responsible for managing your loved one’s final affairs. This can involve completing many tasks that may each have its own legal complexities.
As a personal representative, you may be responsible for duties, such as:
- Making funeral and burial arrangements
- Finding your loved one’s assets
- Determining if probate is necessary
- Paying off your loved one’s debts with the estate
- Filing your loved one’s income tax returns
- Distributing your loved one’s remaining property according to the will or the laws of intestate succession
Mistakes can be costly
Serving as a personal representative can seem daunting, especially if you have never done it before. However, you can enlist the help of various professionals. Many personal representatives seek the help of appraisers and attorneys to make sure they complete their tasks correctly.
Completing tasks correctly is important because personal representatives have personal liability. This means that if you make a mistake, a court could require you to use your personal assets to fix the mistake.
Serving as a personal representative can be an honor. However, this role involves many responsibilities. To avoid potential problems, it can be helpful to make sure you fully understand those responsibilities, so you can successfully fulfill them.