Common sense, conscientiousness and honesty are the main requirements.
If you have been asked to be a Personal Representative, you may wonder what your responsibilities are. Essentially, your job is to gather and take care of the deceased person’s assets, pay valid debts and distribute what is left to the people who will inherit it. However, before you can act, you must file a petition with the Court to probate the estate and to be named the Personal Representative. The Court will issue Testamentary Letters to you—documents that evidence your authority to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate. During the administration of the estate, you may be required to present copies of these Letters to persons with whom you transact estate business.
You may have additional duties as the Personal Representative which might include setting up a bank account for the estate, paying current bills and completing a final tax return. You may also need to cancel services such as phone contracts and utility bills and notify Social Security and pensions.
In some cases, you may want to publish a Notice to Creditors in the local newspaper. By publishing a Notice to Creditors, creditors are put on notice that they must make their claims within 4 months of the date of the publication or their claims will be barred.
After all known debts, administration expenses, and taxes have been paid or provided for, a final report or account should be prepared. Copies of the report should be made available to all persons interested in the estate.
Normally, distribution of the assets will await the closing of the estate. However, depending on such factors as the size of the estate, the needs of the beneficiaries, tax considerations and the desirability of avoiding the payment of interest on specific bequests, earlier partial distributions may be made.
Being a Personal Representative is a significant responsibility. The decedent is depending on you to settle his or her estate and to distribute the remaining assets to the persons designated. Common sense, conscientiousness and honesty are the main requirements for being the Personal Representative.
Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.