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By: Scott Grossman on August 22nd, 2017

Appointed Personal Representative of a Probate Administration

If your loved one appointed you personal representative, also known as an executor, of his or her estate, a significant responsibility lays before you. Personal representatives are in charge of overseeing and administering the probate proceedings after a person dies. Probate can be a lengthy process and there are many tasks that must be accomplished before it can be completed. It is important to learn as much as possible about the process before proceeding.

5 Tips Before Beginning the Probate Administration Process

If you were appointed personal representative of a probate administration and planning to accept the appointment after their death, it is crucial to know this valuable information. The following are five important steps that every personal representative should follow:

  1. Determine the extent of the probate administration. How large is the estate? It is important to understand the distinction between probate and non-probate assets. Some examples of non-probate include, assets held jointly with another person, assets held in most forms of trusts, and assets that had named beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies. The larger the size of the probate estate, the more involved the process you may be undertaking.
  2. Find a good lawyer. When you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in your corner, it can make the probate administration process much easier. The laws and rules surrounding probate administrations are unique. Unless you have experienced the probate process in the past, you are likely unfamiliar with what needs to be done. A good attorney can help make the process smoother while also keeping you out of trouble. It is important to find someone who is responsive, knowledgeable, and easy to communicate with.
  3. Seek out knowledgeable professionals to help with the probate proceedings. You may need the assistance of a CPA and a financial adviser, for example. You may also need help from a realtor if the estate will need to sell real estate. Determine whether or not you can find people to fill these roles before agreeing to become the executor.
  4. Understand the extent of your responsibilities. The tasks faced by personal representatives are numerous. You must file the will, notify the beneficiaries, locate and manage assets, establish estate bank accounts, pay expenses, file and pay taxes, and pay debts. You also must provide proper notice to certain parties, including beneficiaries and creditors. One of the most important responsibilities is to distribute the property to the proper parties. If you fail to fulfill any of these obligations, the estate may suffer financial harm and you may subject yourself to liability. Before beginning the probate administration proceedings, it is crucial that you have a solid understanding of what your role is, what to expect during the process, and how long the process may last.
  5. Remember that closing the estate is just as important as opening the estate. Once the debts and taxes are paid off and assets are distributed to the beneficiaries, it is essential to undergo the formal estate closing procedure. Failing to do so could leave you open to liability.

While your loved one likely selected you to be the executor due to your responsible nature and trustworthiness, be aware that you do not have to accept your appointment. If you do not feel willing or capable of taking on this role, it is better you decline. Before doing so, however, it is wise to consult with an attorney for guidance. You may discover that with the help of a good lawyer, your job as an executor may be easier than you expected. We have helped countless clients administer the estates of their loved ones.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form.  If you want a comprehensive overview of California Probate, then click here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, then you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.