You have been asked to be the personal representative. As the personal representative you have been appointed by provisions expressed in your loved one’s Will, or thorough the Probate Court. You may consider this position an honor but it can also be scary and even overwhelming.
As you assume this responsibility, here are three things you should consider:
- How much time do you have to spare?
As the personal representative you are responsible for handling all aspects of the estate. If you live far away you may need to travel to and from the property at least once to complete all the work. Be aware of how much time you are willing to put into the process. You may need professionals, like my team, to help you complete certain tasks such as liquidating the personal property and preparing the real estate for sale. There will be significant documentation to complete, including review of court documents that your attorney will oversee, documents through the sale of the real estate and even sorting through your loved one’s personal paperwork. Being a personal representative requires some organizational skills. It’s important that you keep detailed files of all transaction related expenses for the estate, and again consult a professional if you feel uncomfortable with certain responsibilities.
As you can imagine, all of this is time consuming and can be stressful, especially while grieving. So consider hiring professionals to help you, through the process of completing these tasks.
2. Do you understand the probate rules and regulations?
There are laws and timetables to adhere to as the personal representative. You can do a search online to figure out what your responsibilities are, but I suggest that you find an experienced attorney who will save you a great deal of trouble when settling an estate.
3. Do you understand your financial responsibilities as a personal representative?
In most cases, you are entitled to compensation for your time, but know that you must keep detailed documentation to prevent any discrepancies.
No one does the work for the money and it’s important to keep in mind that small sums can still cause disputes among the beneficiaries. Be aware of your rights to compensation and do your best to keep other beneficiaries informed as to the amount of time you have put into the estate.