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What Is a Personal representative? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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A person who manages the legal affairs of a decedent in probate. If the decedent had a will, then the personal representative is known as the Executor (if the Executor is female, Executrix). If the decedent did not have a will and the assets are being distributed according to laws of intestacy, then the personal representative is known as the Administrator (if the Administrator is a female, Administratrix).

How a Personal Representative Works

A personal representative performs a number of tasks during probate when acting as the executor of a deceased person’s estate, including but not limited to the following:

  • Arranging funeral services
  • Dealing with the probate courts
  • Notifying those who are entitled to part of the estate’s property
  • Determining the value of the estat less any debts
  • Management and security of estate property
  • Payments of all debts and expenses owed to creditors as well as outstanding income and estate taxes
  • Filing all needed tax returns on time and distributes estate property according to the will

In most cases, a personal representative is a close relative or friend of the deceased. The personal representative makes sure that all the tasks related to the estate are handled properly and in a timely manner so that probate can conclude as quickly as possible.

Compensation for personal representatives

A personal representative has a lot of work to do, as a result, there is often compensation from the estate that is provided. Not all work must be performed by the personal representative, though. For example, the personal representative usually works closely with lawyers and tax professionals to file motions with the court and handle estate accounting.

Personal Representative Requirements

A personal representative is almost always named in the will and this is discussed and negotiated ahead of time. If a personal representative isn’t named in the will then the court will appoint one. Usually, whether or not the deceased left a will, the probate court will issue a finding of fact that a will has or has not been filed and a personal representative or administrator has been appointed. The personal representative will use this document, along with the death certificate, to settle the deceased’s affairs and dispose of his or her estate.

Personal Representative vs. Trustee

A trustee is a legal title for trust and refers to the fiduciaries’ duties as it relates to living trusts. Personal representatives and trustees are both fiduciaries that act in the best interest of the estate and the heirs but a personal representative is different from a trustee since they only are responsible for tasks related to the probated estate to make sure they are handled properly and in a timely manner so that probate can conclude as quickly as possible. The primary difference between a personal representative and a trustee is that the personal representative handles your probate estate while a trustee deals with living trusts.

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