If you have been appointed to serve as the personal representative (or executor) of an estate, you may feel both honored and alarmed. The duties of a personal representative can depend greatly on the size of the estate and other factors. When you contemplate how best to perform your duties, it may be helpful to get an idea of some common documentation that you will be dealing with during the probate probate process. Read on to learn more about carrying out your duties and the paperwork you should become familiar with.
A word about this responsibility
You should understand that taking on this responsibility can mean a considerable output of time and attention to detail. You must be organized and familiar with the deceased's estate and preferably know or are part of the family. You should also realize that you do not necessarily have to accept this duty. Speak to the estate attorney to get a better idea of what may be expected of you in the coming months. For example, if the estate is very large or the attorney expects the will to be contested, you need to take those factors into consideration before you agree to do it. If you refuse the duty, the probate court will appoint someone else for the job. Being a personal representative means that you are performing legal duties, and you must be ready to take the job seriously.
The estate documentation
- Life insurance policy. While some people do some advance planning and already have their funeral and burial paid for, in many cases you will need to locate any life insurance policies for that purpose. You should be aware that ensuring that there are funds to carry out the funeral and burial are one of your responsibilities.
- The will. There may be no immediate need to view the will, but some people still put their funeral and burial wishes in their will alongside of their bequests. Make an appointment with the estate attorney within the next few weeks for the reading of the will.
- Trusts. This form of estate planning has become increasingly popular, since it allows the deceased to pass along property without having to go through probate. A trust will have its own administrator, known as a trustee, who will oversee the trust. Any provisions that appear in a trust take precedence over those same provisions set forth in a will.
- Banking information. You will need to locate any checking, savings or investments accounts.
- Car titles and real estate deeds.
- Tax returns for the last few years.
Contact a law office, such as DOUG NEWBORN LAW FIRM, PLLC, for more help.