The purpose of having a will is to ensure that a person’s wishes become a reality after their death. To this end, probate courts have the power to appoint personal representatives to carry out estate administration. These representatives have the sole legal authority to pay an estate’s debts and distribute the remaining property to the designated heirs.
Because this is such an important function, the law places heavy burdens on estate administrators. They must be sure to understand their duties under the law as well as take proper steps in their roles. Failure to properly do this could result in removal from that role as well as the representative’s personal liability toward members of the estate.
A Rosemead estate administration lawyer could help you if you are taking on this role. Our estate planning attorneys could describe your obligations under the law and recommend steps to take the help to fulfill your legal duties.
How Does an Individual Become an Estate Administrator?
A personal representative plays a vital role in the administration of an estate. However, people can only gain these powers through a court order. Every estate will have an administrator, and the testator has significant influence over the appointment of this person.
A will usually nominates a person as executor. This person will carry preference in the eyes of the probate court for selection as the personal representative. Even so, the probate court must ensure that the executor is willing and able to serve in this role. If a nominated executor is under the age of 18 or is mentally or physically unable to serve in this role, the court may name another estate administrator.
Once the court confirms a representative, it will issue letters testamentary. These allow the representative to pay off debts in the decedent’s name as well as take temporary control of assets for the purpose of distributing them to the heirs. A Rosemead attorney could help people better understand how they became executors and motion a court to appoint them to this role of estate administration.
What are the Duties of a Personal Representative?
Personal representatives play an essential role in the administration of an estate. Not only do they ensure that the heirs in a will receive the proper assets to which they are entitled, but they also pay the decedent’s debts and maintain property until the time comes to close the estate.
State law defines the duties of an estate administrator. According to California Probate Code § 9600, a personal representative must use “ordinary care and diligence.” Whether the steps that a personal representative takes concerning this concept are appropriate is a matter of interpretation. As long as a representative pays the debts from the assets of an estate and distributes the remaining property according to the terms of the will, a representative should satisfy this requirement.
Categorizing Assets and Keeping Items Separate
Another crucial thing for estate representatives to remember is that they need to hold and keep all assets separately. For example, they need to keep the money associated with an estate in a different place than their own funds. An executor can usually do this by opening up a bank account for the estate and never depositing a decedent’s funds into any other location. A representative should also make sure that this account is able to accrue interest.
Meanwhile, a personal representative to an estate also needs to make sure that they properly inventory the estate property. This entails locating all the relevant assets, establishing their value, and filing an inventory and appraisal. Keeping a detailed record of these assets and one’s own actions is a critical part of any representative’s duties.
Having a better understanding of one’s duties as a personal representative can result in better estate administration as well as create better chances of avoiding any legal complications. A Rosemead lawyer could provide helpful support in this area of estate administration.
Contact a Rosemead Estate Administration Attorney Today
The proper administration of a decedent’s estate is vital to the probate process. Not only do personal representatives ensure that heirs receive the property, but they also provide payments to creditors to close out an estate. If you have recently received an appointment as a personal representative, a Rosemead estate administration lawyer may be able to help.
An attorney could provide guidance in explaining your power and duties and walk you through the relevant laws that control your actions during this time. Finally, our team could suggest steps you can take to fulfill your legal obligations. Reach out to an experienced member of our team today to learn more.