When a person has died, a personal representative has the responsibility of overseeing the handling of a deceased person’s assets, debts, and overall distribution. This can also be known as the executor or estate administrator.
Your personal representative is chosen by you. They effectively speak on behalf of the estate after you have died. They are responsible for settling the estate upon your death. Most importantly they will ensure your last wishes and instructions in your estate plan do not get ignored, overridden, or altered. Personal representatives have the legal authority to handle these tasks, making their role vital to successful completion of the settling of your estate. We will help you choose a personal representative based on our experience and expertise.
A personal representative’s duties may include:
• Gathering and identifying the assets
• Notifying the named beneficiaries
• Managing and distributing the assets
• Filing tax returns and paying taxes on behalf of the deceased person’s estate
• Paying off any outstanding claims, which can include selling off assets to satisfy the claims
• Selling assets to satisfy claims against the estate
• Filing all necessary documents and other paperwork with the court
To be a personal representative in the state of California, a person must:
• Be at least 18 years old.
The personal representative cannot be a minor.
• Be a U.S. resident.
• Be physically and mentally capable of serving as the personal representative.
This is the most important requirement. You want to make sure the person has the intelligence, maturity, and mental capacity to understand and execute their duties. An understanding of finances can be helpful. Though many people choose a family member, you can also choose your lawyer or accountant. The point is to pick someone you trust who will willingly take care of these tasks and understands their fiduciary duty.
• No felony convictions.
Your personal representative cannot be a convicted felon. To be more specific, the individual can be acquitted of a felony charge and still serve as your personal representative.
You as the creator of your estate plan will name a personal representative during the estate planning process. If you do not, then the probate court will get involved. When you work with us, we will not allow that to happen. Your estate plan will include naming a personal representative.
If a person does pass away without a will (called intestate) and therefore before getting the chance to legally name a personal representative, then the California court generally names a close relative (if they are able and willing to serve) to act as the estate administrator.
In California, the estate administrator has the same responsibilities as an executor except an administrator must distribute the assets in accordance with the laws of intestate succession. A personal representative is required to distribute in accordance with the terms of a will. California law would recognize the spouse of the deceased as having seniority, but if they decline, the court will work down the line of heirs.
Contact us to find out more about choosing your personal representative and to make sure you have a will and a comprehensive estate plan including a Trust, Advanced Healthcare Directives, and a Power of Attorney.