The Personal Representative’s Responsibilities During Probate
A personal representative (sometimes called an “executor”) is a person stated in a will who manages the estate during probate proceedings. The personal representative works closely with a probate attorney and the probate court to ensure the will is executed as desired and that beneficiaries receive their specified assets. Personal representatives play a critical role in the probate process. Choosing someone who is organized, responsible, and generally gets along with family members and friends is essential. Learn more about the personal representative’s top responsibilities below.
Primary Communicator Between Probate Court and Family
Personal representatives are the primary liaison between the decedent’s (the person who passed away) family, the probate court, beneficiaries, and creditors. Personal representatives are responsible for attending necessary meetings and hearings. They are also the go-to person when a family member or beneficiary has a question about probate proceedings. Personal representatives will bring questions from the family to the probate court and relay information to the family after probate meetings occur.
Notifying Beneficiaries and Creditors
Beneficiaries listed in a will have a right to know that their loved one’s estate is in probate and that they are listed as a beneficiary. The personal representative should notify beneficiaries as soon as possible after the notice of administration is filed. This ensures beneficiaries have plenty of time to contest the will or participate in the proceedings if desired.
In addition, personal representatives are also tasked with notifying potential creditors of the estate’s status. Creditors are those who are owed money by the decedent, including credit card companies, lenders, and government agencies. An official notice to creditors must be published in a public forum (usually a local newspaper distributed in the county where the decedent resided) for at least two consecutive weeks. Creditors then have 90 days to file a claim against the estate.
Managing Estate Finances
Personal representatives are in charge of maintaining the estate’s finances while probate proceedings occur. They will inventory and value the decedent’s personal belongings and assess the value of bank accounts, stocks, and other financial assets. The personal representative will then create an estate value assessment and submit it to the probate court. The funds from financial bank accounts and any other assets sold or liquidated will be placed in an estate bank account, which the personal representative will also create and maintain. Creditors will be paid for relevant claims from this bank account. It is important to note that personal representatives are liable for mismanaging or misusing funds in this bank account. Also, a personal representative will ensure the decedent’s final tax return is filed.
Maintain Assets During Probate
During probate proceedings, personal representatives must maintain the decedent’s property. This could include paying HOA fees or ensuring landscaping is maintained. If any mortgage or car payments are still outstanding, the personal representative will pay those monthly expenses using the estate bank account while probate takes place.
Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries
After beneficiaries are notified, the creditor claim period has ended, and any debts the decedent owed are paid, the remaining estate assets will be distributed to beneficiaries as stated in the will. The personal representative will oversee this process and work with the probate attorney to file a petition of discharge, officially concluding probate proceedings.
Kathy D. Sheive: Osceola County Probate Attorney
Estates that go through probate must use a probate attorney to guide them through the process. Whether creating your will or helping execute a loved one’s estate as a personal representative, the law offices of Kathy D. Sheive can help you ensure probate proceedings run quickly and smoothly. Contact our office in Kissimmee at 407-942-7409 for guidance regarding estate planning and probate proceedings.