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Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

A Personal Representative or an executor is the person who helps finalize the finances and assets for a deceased person. As Personal Representative of an estate, you will be responsible to get copies of the death certificate, notify authorities, such as Social Security, to stop benefits, and may be involved in arranging the funeral.

The Personal Representative will also need to follow the instructions in the will to administer the estate, organize the assets, pay off any debts, close accounts like utilities and cable or phone plans and distribute money and possessions to beneficiaries.

US News’ article entitled “How to Prepare to Be an Executor of an Estate” takes a look at the responsibilities of an executor.

If you are asked and accept the position, start by finding the important documents, like the will. As Personal Representative, you are acting in a fiduciary capacity, and your efforts are directed toward the interests of the beneficiaries of the decedent’s the estate.

There are also requirements that must be met to be an executor of an estate. Anyone convicted of a felony is not allowed to be an executor, even if they are named in the decedent’s will. The exact rules vary, depending on the state, so ask an estate planning attorney.

After the death, it can take months to carry out all the administrative work related to the estate. Therefore, if you do not have the time, do not agree to serve as personal representative.

Finally, Personal Representatives may be compensated for their work. Some states, including Wisconsin, have commission schedules listed in their statutes that the executor can collect, while other states require that you keep track of your time and the judge will authorize “reasonable” compensation for your actual efforts.

An experienced estate planning attorney can assist with the entire probate process and ensure the Personal Representative fulfills their responsibilities.

Reference: US News (Dec. 22, 2021) “How to Prepare to Be an Executor of an Estate”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Wills, Probate Court, Asset Protection, Executor, Personal Representative, Probate Attorney

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