personal representative

What Steps Should I Take as a Personal Representative After the Death of My Loved One?

Being a personal representative (executor) is a serious job. It is also a stressful one since you have to perform your duties while grieving and perhaps overwhelmed by loss. Engaging the services of a skilled estate planning attorney is essential. If you live in Southeastern Massachusetts, the law team at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is well-prepared to guide you through the process. 

We have extensive experience and a history of exceptional client service. Contact us to discuss the specifics of your situation. In the meantime, take a look at your assignment as a personal representative. 

Steps to Take as a Personal Representative When a Loved One Passes

You should be aware that each of the following steps should be recorded precisely, including all transactions, communications, and decisions. Being a personal representative involves a fiduciary responsibility, so this documentation will be crucial for accountability and transparency.

  1. Obtain the death certificate with copies you may need for various legal and financial agencies.
  2. Locate, review, and file the Will with the Massachusetts Probate Court. Initiate the probate process by submitting the necessary paperwork, including a Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of a Personal Representative to establish your legal authority to manage the estate. If there is no will, the estate will be distributed according to Massachusetts intestacy laws.
  3. Notify heirs and beneficiaries about the death according to the Will or in accordance with state intestacy succession laws.
  4. Identify and inventory estate assets, including real estate, investments, bank accounts, furnishings, jewelry, fine art, and collectibles.
  5. Valuate assets, through professional appraisal if necessary, for accurate distribution and tax purposes.
  6. Open a bank account for the estate which you will need to pay estate bills and taxes and record incoming funds.
  7. Pay outstanding debts and expenses, including any final medical bills, funeral costs, and outstanding loans to prevent unnecessary confusion or complications during asset distribution.
  8. File Taxes, including the deceased’s final income tax return and an estate tax return if necessary. Pay any existing tax bills and consult with a reputable accountant to ensure compliance with Massachusetts tax laws.
  9. Distribute remaining estate assets to beneficiaries as stated in the will or according to intestacy laws.
  10. Close the Estate. Once you have paid all estate debts, distributed all estate assets, and met all legal requirements, you are ready to seek court approval to close the estate. 

The Takeaway

Though not easy when done correctly, being a personal representative can be rewarding since it involves carrying out the final wishes of someone you love, as well as satisfying their legal obligations. The steps listed above give you an outline to help you pre-plan your activities as a personal representative. 

In order to fulfill these tasks with as little stress as possible, contact the estate administration attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski. We have an in-depth understanding of what needs to be done and the tools and commitment to help you do it effectively and efficiently.