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What is a Personal Representative – It is Probably You! But What Do You Do?

A personal representative in the probate process is an individual appointed to manage and settle the estate of a deceased person. This role can be referred to as an executor if the deceased left a will, or as an administrator if there was no will or the named executor is unable to serve. The personal representative has several key responsibilities, including:

1. Filing the Will: If there is a will, the personal representative must file it with the probate court to initiate the probate process.

2. Notifying Heirs and Beneficiaries: They must inform all heirs and beneficiaries of the probate proceedings.

3. Inventory and Appraisal: They are responsible for identifying, inventorying, and appraising all the assets of the estate.

4. Managing Estate Assets: This includes safeguarding and managing the estate’s assets during the probate process, which may involve maintaining property, collecting debts owed to the estate, and paying any bills or taxes.

5. Paying Debts and Taxes: The personal representative must ensure that all valid debts and taxes owed by the estate are paid from the estate’s assets.

6. Distributing Assets: After debts and taxes are paid, the personal representative distributes the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries as directed by the will or by state law if there is no will.

7. Reporting to the Court: They must provide regular updates and final accounts to the probate court, detailing the management and distribution of the estate.

The personal representative plays a crucial role in ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are honored and that the estate is administered according to legal requirements.

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