Alexander named his oldest son, Caleb, the executor (also known as personal representative) of his estate. When Alexander passed away last month, Caleb was left grieving and wondering, “What does an executor or personal representative do?” His father’s estate planning attorney was able to shed some light on the subject.
As personal representative, Caleb is responsible for finding and protecting all of his father’s property. Anything Alexander will become estate assets to be used for paying claims and distributing to heirs.
Sometimes the decedent, Caleb’s father in this case, maintain accurate, up-to-date records. This makes the personal representative’s job much easier. Whether easy to find or not, though, Caleb has to find every asset his father owned.
In addition to finding the assets, the personal representative must protect them also. This may require the estate to purchase licenses, register vehicles, and buy insurance. Care should be taken to avoid wasting or spoiling assets that require special attention.
By the way, “assets” may include: stocks, bonds, promissory notes, partnership and business interests, life insurance policies payable to the estate, household goods, personal property, artwork, jewelry, china, silverware, valuable collections, vehicles, safe deposit boxes, and real estate.
Find and Pay Valid Claims
The personal representative is responsible for notifying creditors of the decedent’s death. There are two ways to do this:
- Publishing a notice in a newspaper with general circulation in the county in which probate was filed; and
- Sending written notice to all known creditors.
Creditors have to submit their claims within a certain time period or they may forfeit their claim.
Common debts and liabilities include: notes, mortgages, accounts payable, and unpaid taxes.
Finalize the Estate
The personal representative typically starts and ends the probate court proceeding. Before finalizing the estate, however, all property remaining in the estate will be disposed of. This usually involves distributing it to heirs named in the decedent’s Will. However, if there’s no Will to probate, all property will pass according to Alabama’s intestacy laws.
The personal representative files an initial inventory of assets within 60 days of being appointed. Depending on the length of time required to finalize probate, the personal representative may file partial accountings until the final settlement is filed.
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We’ve only listed three duties for the personal representative. However, each of those tasks involves multiple steps. It’s critical to obtain the services of an attorney to make sure everything is done correctly.
The attorneys at Adams & Miller, P.C. efficiently assist their clients with probate and estate planning. For a free consultation, contact us at 256-251-2137 or use our convenient Contact Form. You may also want to check out our free videos. Although we’re located in Anniston, we also help clients in the Birmingham, Gadsden, Hoover, Talladega, Vestavia Hills, and surrounding areas.