When an individual dies, it is likely for their estate to undergo probate based on its size and details. This process has many requirements, including the appointment of a personal representative. Ideally, the decedent already has someone named in their will. If not, the court can appoint a person for this role, possibly a surviving family member or another party with the qualifications to do so.
This position usually involves significant responsibilities, such as managing and administering the decedent’s estate. Sometimes, it is preferable for a relative to take on the role, depending on whether they can commit to the accompanying obligations, including the following:
- Determining the existence and validity of the decedent’s will
- Organizing the properties and assets in the estate
- Getting in touch with the decedent’s creditors if they have unpaid debts
- Making decisions concerning the estate, preserving its value and distributing it properly
- Keeping documents and records of the estate’s financial information
- Paying off any pending taxes left by the decedent, including those on the estate
Additionally, a personal representative might need to complete other vital tasks when appraising asset values. These duties could be too much for one person, especially if they have no experience navigating probate independently.
How to choose a personal representative
Fortunately, decedents can take measures to prevent issues when selecting a personal representative. Instead of naming someone randomly, they could take time to discuss their options with an estate planning attorney, helping to determine the best setup based on the circumstances. Sometimes, it is best to appoint a professional or multiple parties based on the situation. Still, what is most appropriate could depend on the estate and the decedent’s wishes.