A personal representative is a fiduciary—someone in a position of trust and responsibility acting on behalf of others. This role comes with the general duty to act wisely and fairly with the estate’s best interest and its heirs/devisees in mind. More specifically, a personal representative’s duties include, but are not limited to the following:
- Collecting all of the estate’s assets. This may include locating and collecting accounts or policies in the decedent’s name, transferring the decedent’s financial accounts into an estate bank account, and/or selling real property or personal property that is not being distributed directly to heirs. These assets must be reflected on an estate inventory within three months of appointment.
- Protecting the estate’s assets. The personal representative should take due steps to ensure that none of the estate’s assets are damaged, lost, or lost value. They should keep insurance in place. On any real property or vehicles, ensure that real property is maintained, utilities are kept on, and vehicles and personal property are stored securely.
- Keeping accurate records. The personal representative will need to be able to account for all of their actions on the estate’s behalf. They should carefully track all of the assets they put into the estate and all the payments and distributions made on the estate’s behalf. They should also keep track of their time spent on the estate, especially if they intend to compensate themselves for their work as personal representatives.
- Responding to creditor claims. The question regarding creditors addresses this duty in more detail. Still, the personal representative should respond to and resolve each claim by either barring it, negotiating it to settlement, or paying it in the proper order of priority.
- Paying estate expenses. The personal representative can employ services to assist them with their duties, including real estate agents, tax professionals, attorneys, appraisers, repair and maintenance services, movers, storage, and more. If reasonable and necessary, these expenses can be paid from funds in the estate.
- Filing taxes. The personal representative should consult with a tax professional regarding the tax obligations of the deceased individual and the estate.
- Communicating with the estate’s heirs and other interested parties. Certain court filings must be served on all interested parties to notify them of essential steps in the estate administration. In addition to these required mailings, the personal representative should respond to reasonable requests for updates and documents.
- Distributing assets. When all other estate expenses have been paid in the proper order, the personal representative is responsible for distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the will’s direction (or intestate law). The personal representative should obtain a receipt and release from each distributee as evidence that the distributions were made.
It would be beneficial for you to speak with a Probate Lawyer Colorado Springs resident trust. The Colorado Springs Probate attorneys at Baker Law Group have many years of experience serving their clients in probate matters.