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Estate Planning Newsletter

The Personal Representative of an Estate

When a person dies, a personal representative must be appointed to manage and distribute the decedent’s estate.

Types of Personal Representatives

A personal representative is any of the following:

  • Executor – Someone who was chosen by the person who created the will (testator) to carry out the terms of a will after death.
  • Administrator – Someone who has been designated by the probate court to manage and/or distribute a deceased person’s estate.

Court Appointment

Other than situations where a person dies without a will (intestate), a representative may be appointed if:

  • An executor is not named in the will
  • The named executor is no longer alive
  • The named executor resigns or is incapable of handling the duties required of an executor

Standard of Care

In administering a decedent’s estate, the personal representative must exercise the same level of care that he/she would use in dealing with his/her own estate. The representative should use prudence and diligence in management of the decedent’s property.

Expenses

Personal representatives are usually reimbursed for any necessary out-of-pocket expenses. Such expenses may include:

  • Property management wages
  • Costs of attorney’s fees
  • Cost of surety bond
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Repairs made to the property

A personal representative is a fiduciary and may be personally responsible for any losses related to his/her neglect or mismanagement of a decedent’s estate.

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