Personal representative’s duties are commonly considered, but often misunderstood. This guide will help you understand what a personal representative does and his or her duties (a personal representative is called an executor in some states). Acting as a personal representative can be a time consuming task. It’s a good idea to review this list before agreeing to be someone’s personal representative or naming someone as your personal representative.
The Personal Representative Reviews the Will
- Notes any special instructions in the Will.
- Meets with family members and other interested parties to go over the provisions in the Will.
- If an attorney will be hired to represent the estate during probate, the PR will meet with the attorney and officially engage the attorney.
The PR Arranges for the Probate of the Will
- Completes the required training module found at: azcourts.gov/probate/Training.aspx.
- Gets appointed by the court get receives permission to act.
- Arranges for the bond, if required.
- Prepares the notice to the creditors.
- Arranges to have the decedent’s mail forwarded.
- Gives notice of the decedent’s passing to banks and financial advisors.
- Changes or disconnects the decedent’s utilities.
Assembles, Inventories and Takes Custody of Assets
- Searches for assets belonging to the deceased and lists the contents of safe deposit boxes.
- Assembles supporting data and establishes value of the estate assets. Arranges to have assets appraised.
- Files social security or veteran’s benefits claims as appropriate.
- Inspects real estate, leases and mortgages.
- Reviews all insurance policies and has policies endorsed to the estate and coverage increased as necessary.
- Reviews any employment or deferred compensation agreements to determine whether or not payments are due to the estate.
Reviews the Decedent’s Financial Records
- Gathers information about the decedent’s financial affairs for the years immediately prior to death.
- Review business interests that may be included in the estate.
- Obtains canceled checks and brokerage records for several years prior to death. Obtains information on any life insurance policies owned owned by the decedent on any other person’s life and any policies owned by others on the decedent’s life.
- Reviews all significant/taxable gifts made by the decedent.
- Reviews the decedent’s personal and business tax returns for the three years prior to death. Discusses the returns with the advisor who prepared the returns.
Reviews Non-Probate Assets (Assets Not Passing Under the Will)
- Determines if jointly owned property with right of survivorship is includable in the decedent’s gross estate for estate tax purposes.
- Reviews any trusts in which the decedent had an interest for purposes of determining whether the assets are includable in the decedent’s gross estate for estate tax purposes.
- Reviews all life insurance policies on the decedent’s life.
- Determines whether or not demands should be made against persons who receive property outside the Will for their proportionate share of estate taxes.
Administers the Estate
- Collects all income due the decedent, receivables and other funds due the decedent or the estate.
- Examines estate securities and analyzes market and investment trends. Keeps a detailed record of all expenses, income and transactions. Discusses investments with beneficiaries and financial advisors.
- Examines any business interests owned by the decedent and reviews the management and finances of the business(es).
- Meets with attorneys representing the estate, financial advisors, accountants and beneficiaries of the estate.
- Examines claims against the estate for reasonableness and validity. Allows proper claims and rejects improper claims.
- Determines distribution requirements and needs of beneficiaries.
- Arranges for the sale and/or transportation of personal property as required.
- Files all necessary documents with the court through the estate attorney.
- Defends against any lawsuits against the decedent or the estate.
- Closely supervises and arrange or management of real property.
- Estimates cash needed for bequests, taxes and estate settlement costs. Determines assets to be sold to raise cash.
Responsible for All Taxes
- Files the decedent’s final tax return.
- Prepares for any audit by tax authorities of income tax returns filed by the decedent as necessary.
- Obtains an estate valuation and decide whether the estate should be valued at the date or death or six months later.
- Files federal estate tax return within nine months of death. Obtains copies of all documents required to be filed with estate tax return.
- Obtains federal estate tax releases for transfer of securities and bank accounts and so property may be distributed as soon as possible.
- Apportions and collects estate taxes between beneficiaries as required.
- File state estate tax returns as required.
Distributes the Estate
- Makes partial distributions as the estate administration progresses.
- Prepares data for final accounting. Data must include all assets, income and disbursements.
- Distributes estate in accordance with the Will.
- Receives receipts from beneficiaries and, in some states, is discharged by the court.