If a loved one asks you to become his or her personal representative, it is important to understand the duties of a personal representative before you accept. In general, if you are named a personal representative, you will be responsible for making sure your loved one’s wishes are carried out after he or she passes away.
This may sound simple, but there are actually many steps you may need to take to legally fulfill this responsibility. If you do not correctly complete all of the required tasks, you could be held personally liable.
What are some of the duties that must be completed?
The duties that could be required of you depend on the complexity of your loved one’s will and financial situation. However, some examples of tasks you could be required to complete, include:
- Offering the will for probate
- Finding and managing your loved one’s assets until they can be distributed
- Determining the value of your loved one’s property
- Notifying beneficiaries and creditors of your loved one’s passing
- Using the estate to pay your loved one’s bills and taxes
- Using the estate to pay funeral expenses
- Distributing your loved one’s assets according to his or her will
Try to avoid common mistakes
Two common mistakes personal representatives often make involve their relationships with beneficiaries. Ignoring beneficiaries and favoring one beneficiary over others are two actions you should try to avoid if you are named a personal representative. You have a fiduciary responsibility to all of the beneficiaries, as well as a responsibility to update them throughout the probate process. If you do not do your job, you can be removed from your position.
Failing to take appropriate actions and failing to consult with professionals are other common mistakes to avoid. Although being a personal representative can seem daunting, you must complete your duties. However, you do not have to have legal experience to do so. Many personal representatives find it beneficial to hire an attorney to help guide them through the process and help them avoid mistakes.
It can be meaningful that your loved one trusts you enough to ask you to be his or her personal representative. However, before you give your permission, make sure you are comfortable with the position’s many responsibilities. Being a personal representative can be an honor, but it can also be a lot of work.