Prioritizing Personal Representative Tasks
While being named the personal representative (or executor) of an estate is a great honor, it is also a daunting responsibility. When faced with the tasks ahead, it's a good idea to know what is important. Take a look at the below common personal representative tasks so that you can prioritize things a bit after a death.
Funeral and burial arrangements may be made in advance, and they may even be paid for already. If not, it is the responsibility of the personal representative to fund any arraignments using estate resources. In many cases, the deceased owns a life insurance or burial policy that can be used to cover the funeral and burial. If not, other estate assets may be used.
After the funeral, the last will and testament should be located, read, and filed in the local county probate court. As the personal representative, you will be working closely with the lawyer during the probate process, which can last several months. Some people now create not only a will but also a trust. Revocable or irrevocable trusts do some of the same things a will does, but they are generally more powerful. Any estate property contained in a trust does not have to be probated. For example, if a vehicle is mentioned in a trust, the probate court has no jurisdiction over it. Also, the property contained in a trust can be provided to the beneficiaries almost right away.
All property that has to be probated also has to be counted, listed, and valued, and that is one of the primary tasks of the personal representative. While it's not necessary to count every single item, everything that is of value should be listed. That usually means any real estate, vehicles, bank and investment accounts, art, jewelry, stocks and bonds, and precious metals. In most cases, the probate court will require that the real estate be professionally appraised, and they may even require more than one appraisal. Speaking of real estate, be sure to keep the home maintained while it's in probate. That means attending to repairs and yard work and keeping some utilities connected.
The final important task for the personal representative is to attend to the bills, and this task needs to be performed in tandem with the lawyer. Don't pay a bill without the lawyer's go-ahead. In many cases, the only bill that needs to be paid is taxes.
For more information about personal representative duties, speak to a probate or estate lawyer or visit a website like http://wolfleylawoffice.com/.