What Happens Next? What To Know About Personal Representative Duties

Those asked to perform the duties of a personal representative are tasked with a lot of responsibilities. It's a position of trust and honor but it pays to know what some common duties you will be expected to perform. For what personal representatives should know about their duties, read on.

 Locate the Will — The last will and testament contains your official appointment to the job of the personal representative so it must be located and filed with the county probate office. After that, the court will issue Letters Testamentary that appoints you to the position.

Bonding — Though not always customary, some personal representatives will be asked to purchase probate or fiduciary bond that covers the estimated value of the estate. That prevents the personal representative from cheating the estate of funds or property. Personal representatives have a duty to the court to act in good faith and avoid the appearance of taking estate property for themselves.

Perform an Inventory — The next big task is to make an inventory of the estate and provide it to the probate court. With many people using trusts, special deeds, and account designations to avoid probate, this job may not be as extensive as it might be. Be ready to list vehicles, homes, bank accounts, and more. Sometimes, the probate court requires that a professional appraisal be performed to provide an accurate value for any real estate.

Keep Estate Property Safe — This task can involve several facets. In many cases, the bulk of an estate is centered around a home and its contents. The personal representative is responsible for keeping the home secure from theft or other hazards. They must, for example, ensure that the home continues to be insured against fire and more. Any neighborhood dues should be paid along with storage facility fees. Yards should be kept mowed and any needed repairs should be made. One of the trickiest parts of this is dealing with others who want to take ownership of estate property before the probate court gives the go-ahead. Distribution of the estate will eventually be your duty, but it must be done according to the will. For example, if the will decrees that the estate is to be equally divided between all living children, as they often are, it's up to you to parse out the belongings in a fair and equitable manner.

The above is a summary of common personal representative duties, but all estate situations are unique. Speak to a will lawyer to learn more.

For more information, contact a will and trust attorney near you.