At-a-Glance Guide to the Role of a Personal Representative

At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., our seasoned legal team has been providing exceptional services to clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts for many years. In our practice, we find that almost all our clients must designate a personal representative (executor) for their estate or are preparing to take on this significant role for someone close to them. Understanding the complex duties of a personal representative is crucial for effective estate management. This guide is designed to equip our clients with the knowledge they need.

Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

Being a personal representative is a role of great trust and serious responsibility. The tasks involved can be complex, requiring a detailed understanding of the deceased’s wishes as well as the legal framework governing estates. Key responsibilities include:

  • Filing a copy of the will with the local probate court.
  • Notifying all beneficiaries and interested parties of the death.
  • Taking a complete inventory of estate assets, including real estate, investments, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, collections, and personal belongings.
  • Having assets professionally appraised as necessary.
  • Opening a bank account for the estate.
  • Maintaining property and overseeing investments until assets are distributed.
  • Paying all outstanding debts and taxes and selling assets if necessary to do so.
  • Filing the decedent’s tax returns.
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries as stated in the will or according to state law if the deceased died intestate.
  • Preparing a final account of the estate’s financial transactions to be approved by the court.

Why PRs Must Be Focused, Patient, and Stable

The role of a personal representative is fraught with potential complications that require a steady hand. Here are some challenges executors should be prepared to face:

  • Impatient beneficiaries pressing for their inheritance.
  • Legal disputes in which beneficiaries argue against decisions made by the personal representative or even accuse them of misconduct or contest the will.
  • Complex assets like businesses or overseas property can be challenging to manage or sell.
  • Federal and state tax issues that must be handled properly to remain in full compliance with the law.
  • Debt settlement issues that require identifying legitimate creditor claims and disputing those that are unjust.
  • Mistakes that must be corrected
  • Lawsuits that threaten to decimate the estate.

As you can see, emotional stress is often inevitable when a close person has died and the personal representative, like other family members, is grieving while possibly overwhelmed by logistical matters. This is when those who have assumed the role of personal representative will find one of our knowledgeable attorney’s advice and guidance invaluable.

Services Our Skilled Estate Planning Attorneys Provide

Most personal representatives will benefit from the guidance of an accomplished estate planning attorney who will:

  • Provide legal advice and interpretation of the will and other estate documents.
  • Assist in navigating the probate process and court requirements.
  • Offer strategies for asset management and distribution.
  • Help resolve disputes among beneficiaries.
  • Ensure compliance with all legal and tax obligations.

Contact Our Experienced, Caring Estate Planning Attorneys Now

Serving as a personal representative is an honor that comes with significant responsibilities. At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we understand the complexities of estate management and are committed to supporting our clients through every step of the process. If you are preparing to take on this role or are in the process of selecting a personal representative for your estate, we are here to provide the legal guidance you need. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in fulfilling your duties effectively and efficiently or in choosing the right person for the job.