I Was Just Appointed Personal Representative for an Estate, What Do I Do Now?

In a perfect world, being appointed as the personal representative for an estate does not come as a surprise. Our Michigan estate planning lawyers encourage clients to discuss their wishes for their final affairs with the person they appoint as personal representative in their will. However, if an individual did not tell someone he or she was being nominated to administer an estate or the court appoints a person to administer an estate because no other family member will serve, it can be a shock for some people.

Our Michigan estate planning lawyer discusses the role of a personal representative and some of the responsibilities of a personal representative in this article.

Topics covered in this article:

  • What Is A Personal Representative?
  • Common Responsibilities And Duties Of A Personal Representative
  • Can A Personal Representative Hire A Probate Attorney?

What Is A Personal Representative?

A personal representative is the person appointed to administer the probate estate for a decedent. When an individual executes a will, the person names someone to serve as personal representative for the estate. In most cases, an alternate personal representative is also named in the will in case the other person cannot serve for any reason.

When someone dies without a will, Michigan’s intestate laws dictate how the estate is administered. In most cases, a family member or other interested party petitions the court for appointment as the personal representative when a person dies without a will.

In either case, the personal representative has the same duties and responsibilities to administer the estate according to a will, if one exists, and the probate laws in Michigan. The probate court has jurisdiction over the estate and monitors the administration of the estate.

Common Responsibilities And Duties Of A Personal Representative

Each estate is unique; however, some duties and responsibilities assigned to a personal representative are common in most estates. In most cases, a personal representative is responsible for:

  • Petitioning the court for formal or informal probate;
  • Notifying heirs and creditors of the decedent that an estate has been opened;
  • Securing the decedent’s property;
  • Preparing an inventory and appraisement of the decedent’s property;
  • Defending the interests of the estate in the event there is a challenge to the will or other matter is litigated;
  • Paying the valid liabilities and debts of the decedent, including objecting to claims when appropriate;
  • Filing all necessary documents and forms with the probate court and providing legal notices as required by law;
  • Protecting the assets of the estate to prevent assets from diminishing in value;
  • Filing all necessary individual tax returns and estate tax returns; and,
  • Distributing the assets according to the terms of the will or by order of the court.

Depending on the estate, a personal representative may have additional duties and responsibilities. Administering an estate is not something that a personal representative must do alone.

Can A Personal Representative Hire A Probate Attorney?

Serving as the administrator of a probate estate is not to be taken lightly. A personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the estate and the heirs. In some cases, the duties and responsibilities of administering an estate can be challenging and overwhelming, especially in high net worth estates or estates involving disputes and litigation.

Regardless of the size of the estate or the complexity of the estate, a personal representative can seek legal advice from a Michigan estate planning attorney. A personal representative may need a one-time consultation to review the steps involved in probating an estate and the person’s responsibilities as an administrator. In other cases, the personal representative may hire a probate attorney to prepare documents, provide legal advice, and guide the person through the probate process.

Do You Need Assistance With a Michigan Probate Estate?

The attorneys of The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry can assist you in your role as personal representative. Whatever your needs may be, we are here to provide the support, guidance, and advice you need as you navigate the probate process.

Call 888-390-4360 or use the contact form on our website to schedule an appointment with one of our probate attorneys.

Castle Wealth Group Legal in Media

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