A personal representative (also known as an executor or administrator) is the person who oversees payment of your debts and distribution of your assets according to your will. A personal representative is considered a fiduciary. This means that he or she must observe a high standard of care when dealing with the estate.
You should identify a personal representative by name in your will. Most people choose their spouse, an adult child, a relative, a friend, a trust company or an attorney to fulfill this duty, but anyone can be named personal representative in a will. Since your personal representative will handle your assets, you should always pick someone you trust. You may also name an alternative personal representative to fill this role if, for any reason, your chosen personal representative is unable to fulfill the responsibilities. If your chosen personal representatives and each of the alternates are unable to perform the duties, the Court will name a capable individual.
You may also appoint more than one personal representative. When there is more than one personal representative, all representatives must agree on any decision regarding the estate unless the will provides otherwise.
If no personal representative is named in a will, a judge will appoint one for you to oversee the distribution of your assets.
Responsibilities usually undertaken by a personal representative include:
- Filing your will, an inventory of your assets, and other documents with the court.
- Paying valid creditors.
- Paying taxes.
- Notifying Social Security and other agencies and companies of the death.
- Canceling credit cards, magazine subscriptions, and similar consumer items.
- Distributing assets according to your will.
The attorneys at Kallemeyn & Kallemeyn have vast experience in assisting personal representatives with their duties.