Serving as a personal representative is a huge honor. It means that your loved on trusts you enough to give you power over their last will and testament. At the same time, it’s a huge responsibility that can be very overwhelming.
If you are named as someone’s personal representative, also called an executor, it’s important to know exactly what your role is. Essentially, a personal representative deals with the financial estate of someone who has passed away, following the orders within the will and making sure all necessary debts are paid.
If you’re a personal representative and you have questions, talk with an attorney. They will help you understand the legalese and make sure you are fulfilling the will correctly. Here are the basics of what a personal representative does during the process of probating a will:
- Locate the will
- Find the assets
- Appraise assets
- File probate with the court
- Pay all bills, debts and taxes
- Manage upkeep of the estate
- Distribute assets according to the will
- Deal with any disputes or contests of the will
One of the stickiest jobs of a personal representative is distributing assets to the beneficiaries and dealing with issues that people may have. It’s easy for people to become unhappy during this process. While the probate process is occurring, spouses, children or beneficiaries can contest the will. A will can only be contested if there is a legitimate legal reason for questioning it, such as undue influence or if the testator did not have the ability to understand it. If that happens, the personal representative will be part of defending the will.
Being a personal representative is a big job. It’s smart to always have a legal professional on your side while you work through the process.