Personal Representative

The Personal Representative (also called the “executor” or “executrix” if there is a Will or the “administrator” or “administratix” if there is no Will) is appointed as part of the probate proceeding. The Personal Representative can either be an entity, one individual, or two or more individuals (although this arrangement can become extremely complicated).

Duties

The Personal Representative has the responsibility for managing the estate in accordance with established probate rules and procedures of the JURISDICTION where the probate takes place. Responsibilities of a Personal Representative include:

Locating, inventorying, and obtaining an appraisal of the assets of the decedent

Receiving payments owed to the estate, including unpaid salary, vacation pay, or other benefits due the decedent

Opening a checking account for the estate

Determining how property is distributed

Noticing potential creditors

Investigating the validity of claims against the estate

Paying bills, debts, valid claims and expenses of administrating the estate

Discontinuing utilities and credit cards, closing accounts and notifying appropriate private and governmental agencies of the death

Filing and paying income and estate taxes

Closing the probate

Compensation

Personal Representatives are generally compensated about 2% of the probate estate for their work. This varies moderately from state to state and generally decreases as a percentage as the size of the estate increases. All fees and reimbursed expenses are subject to court approval. Additional fees may be allowed if permitted by the court in certain circumstances. However, if a Personal Representative is incompetent or does not perform as required, the court may deny compensation, and the Personal Representative may be held personally responsible for any damages caused. Liability may arise from improperly managing the assets of the estate, failing to collect claims and moneys due the estate, overpaying claimants, selling an asset without authority or at an inappropriate price, neglecting to file tax returns promptly, or distributing property incorrectly to beneficiaries/

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