Administering a person’s estate can be very complex. There can be disputes, legal obstacles and delays that make the already-difficult event of a person’s death more upsetting.
While this process affects many people connected to the decedent, managing the details of estate administration typically falls on one party: the personal representative. If you are this person, or if you are considering who to name as your personal representative, you should be aware of what the role entails.
Duties of a personal representative
The primary responsibility of the personal representative (also called the executor) is to ensure a person’s wishes are carried out properly. As specified in Pennsylvania state laws, this often requires a person to:
- File an inventory of the decedent’s estate
- Determine the values of each item in the inventory
- Prepare and file Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return and arrange for payment of Inheritance Tax calculated by the Return
- Manage property and other assets
- Pay bills
- Collect payments
- Send notice of a person’s death to his or her beneficiaries
- Settle debts
- Complete legal paperwork
- Attend court dates
These are just some of the duties for which a personal representative will be responsible.
Choosing a personal representative wisely
Considering the financial, logistical, social and legal elements of administering an estate, appointing a competent party is crucial. The person you name should be capable of carrying out complicated tasks. He or she should be prepared to act in your best interests and willing to make difficult decisions.
Therefore, a personal representative should be:
- Comfortable making complex financial transactions
- Diplomatic, especially in light of difficult family dynamics
This person could be someone with whom you share a close, personal friendship; it could also be an attorney or other professional.
It is important to note that if someone has named you as their personal representative, you do not have to be a legal or financial expert to carry out these duties. You should, however, be prepared to fulfill your obligations responsibility and in accordance with the law and the person’s wishes.
If you are unsure of who to name as your representative or you need assistance in administrating an estate, you can call 814-833-2222 to get help from the attorneys at the Quinn Law Firm who provide estate administration services and support.