Before a friend or loved one passes away, he or she may notify you that you have been named as the personal representative of his or her estate. Being named as a personal representative means that your friend or family member trusts you to honorably and truthfully carry out his or her wishes after death. This is an important responsibility, but after your family member passes away and it is time for you to live up to your responsibilities as a personal representative, you may be wondering what you do next.
Your first step is to locate a copy of the will. You will want to review its contents and assess what wishes and directives it contains. You will need to provide notice to all of the named heirs in the will, as well as all potential creditors of the estate. This means entities such as medical providers, credit card accounts, or lien holders on the decedent’s vehicle will all need to be notified of the passing of your loved one.
With a copy of this will and a certified copy of the death certificate, you will want to apply to the court to be officially named as the personal representative of the estate. In many cases, you will not actually have to appear before the court for this process and can be named as official representative without having to appear before a judge.
Once you have been officially named the personal representative, you will also want to take immediate steps to secure all of the tangible property that the decedent left behind. This is especially true for valuable personal property, such as jewelry or artwork. You may be surprised how common it is for other family members to simply take certain items that they have always had their eye on. Together with this, you will need to make a detailed inventory of all of the assets and debts of the estate, ranging from the antique silver service to the final bill owed to the funeral home. As the personal representative, you will be responsible for making sure all of these assets are distributed according to the will and also making sure the debts of the estate are paid.
As personal representative, you will also want to open a checking account for the estate. This checking account will allow you to pay the bills for the estate as well as receive funds, such as debts owed to the estate. Note that you will not use your own information to open this account, but rather the Employer Identification Number of the estate itself. After all of the debts of the estate have been paid, the personal representative is then responsible for distributing the assets in accordance with the provisions of the will.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with their rights and responsibilities as a personal representative. Call us today at 651-464-7292 for an appointment so we can talk about the steps that need to be taken to make sure the estate of your loved one is properly administered.