If you become the personal representative of an estate, you may wonder how complicated the job will be.
Fortunately, you do not have to perform your duties single-handedly. You can seek help from professionals experienced with the different tasks you face.
First things first
The first order of business is to locate the will or trust. Whereas you must file a copy of the will with the probate court, a living trust may enable the estate to avoid probate altogether. A probate judge must approve the distribution of assets associated with a will, but you can immediately distribute the assets held in a trust.
About letters testamentary
If the estate is bound for probate, the court will use documents called letters testamentary to confirm that you are the executor of the decedent’s will. You will then have the power to open a bank account in the name of the estate, pay bills, file tax returns, manage assets and interact with beneficiaries.
Settling an estate can take months, if not a year or more, depending on the complexity. You will have many questions and should seek professional advice. For example, an accountant can help you with taxes and you may need a business appraiser or a financial expert to assist with investments you must manage. An attorney can answer many of the questions that arise and keep you from making any legal missteps in the administration of the estate. Do not try to rush your work as a personal representative. Be organized and thorough. Rely on the assistance of professionals as you go about completing each task and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.