Who Is Responsible for Handling an Estate?
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
January 31, 2022
HAIMO: Whether or not a person dies with or without a will, a personal representative will be appointed to move the estate. However, the personal representative must hire an attorney to execute and move all documents through the court proceedings.
Whether or not you have a validly executed Will, your estate will go through Probate if you own assets in your name. “Probate” is the legal process through which a deceased person’s affairs are formally settled. First, an attorney must open up an estate with the court. Then a person is appointed to administer the estate. This person in charge of handling an estate is often called a Personal Representative or Executor.
The Four Stages of Estate Handling
- The Personal Representative works with the attorney and is responsible for all estate handling. They oversee the entire process. First they must locate a validly executed will.
- Then they must then identify and gather all the deceased person’s assets, file an inventory with the court and notify the deceased’s creditors of the pending estate.
- Next, assets are then pooled together and used to satisfy creditors’ claims.
- Finally, the balance of assets are ultimately distributed to the proper beneficiaries. They are determined by the will or may be decided based on the state in which the estate resides.
Requirements for a Personal Representative
The Personal Representative or Executor is the person that, in conjunction with the attorney, administers the estate through probate. They are appointed by Will or by the court for estate handling, if you fail to choose someone.
In either case, they do NOT have to serve. But if they do serve, they are generally entitled to reasonable compensation. They can be anyone that is over 18 years old and has mental capacity. But a person that has a felony conviction is not qualified.
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Originally published 05/19/2015. Updated 01/31/2022.
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