In setting up your estate plan, you'll be asked to name a number of fiduciaries to act on your behalf in various situations. One such fiduciary will be your Personal Representative, also called an Executor/Executrix or Administrator in some jurisdictions, named in your Last Will and Testament. In addition to selecting your first choice, you should also name one or more backups in case your first choice isn't available to serve.
Your Personal Representative will be responsible for the following:
- Locating and protecting your assets that will have to go through probate.
- Obtaining the date of death values for all of your probate assets, including appraisals of real estate and business interests.
- If your estate is taxable, obtaining the date of death values for any non probate assets, including appraisals of real estate and business interests.
- Determining who you owed money to and then paying off these debts.
- Assessing your income and estate tax liabilities.
- Preparing and filing all required income and estate tax returns.
- Paying the ongoing expenses of administering your estate until it can be closed.
- Raising the cash necessary to pay off your debts, the ongoing administrative expenses and taxes.
- Investing your estate assets until they can be distributed to your beneficiaries.
- Filing all required documents with the probate court in a timely manner.
- And, finally, distributing what’s left over to your beneficiaries.
As you can see, serving as a Personal Representative is a huge responsibility and often time-consuming burden. But with the help of your estate planning attorney, you should be able to choose the right person or institution for the job.
To learn more about the probate process, refer to the following step by step guides: