Duties of Being a Personal Representative
In Arizona, when your initial probate documents have been approved you are appointed as the personal representative. Having this designation means that the court has given you the authority to act on behalf of the estate. What exactly does this involve? In this article, we will go over some of the duties of being a personal representative.
Secure All Estate Assets
Your first duty as being a personal representative is to secure all the estate assets. This involves you taking control of any assets on behalf and for the benefit of the estate. This typically involves contacting the different financial institutions. You will need to provide them with a certified letter of appointment, death certificate, and estate EIN. The title of assets should be in the name of the estate.
Another of the primary duties of being a personal representative is to provide notice. There are three different types of notices that need to be done. The first is notice to interested parties. This form of notice lets those involved in the estate know probate has been opened and you have been appointed as personal representative. The people you will need to provide this notice to include relatives, heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees. It also would include anyone who has filed a demand for notice with the court. This must be sent out within 30 days of your appointment as the personal representative.
The second form is notice to creditors. This notice informs creditors you are the personal representative of the estate and they should contact you with any claims. Creditors can include mortgage companies, credit cards, and physicians. This notice must also be sent within 30 days of your appointment.
The third type is notice to unknown creditors. This is done by running the notice in a newspaper. The newspaper needs to be in general circulation on the count that the probate is filed in. The notice must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.
Another one of the duties of being a personal representative is paying creditors. Known creditors have 120 days from the date you sent them notice to contact you. Unknown creditors have 120 from the first date notice was published to present their claims. Creditors will either mail their claims directly to you or file them with the court. Any claims presented after the 120 days should be denied.
There is an order of priority for addressing the creditor’s claims. This order is:
- Costs and expenses of administering the estate. (i.e. fees you incurred as being the personal representative).
- Funeral expenses
- Medical and hospital expenses
- Federal and state debts and taxes
- All other debts and taxes
Distributing to Heirs
If there are funds left after creditors have been paid the remaining funds should be distributed between the heirs. If there is no Will this should be done according to the state laws of Arizona. For an estate that has a Will, you should follow the distribution provisions of the Will.
One of the vital duties of being a personal representative involves record keeping. You must keep copies of receipts, invoices, bank and brokerage statements, deeds, titles, death and birth certificates, and sales paperwork. Record keeping also involves a comprehensive inventory of the estate. This inventory needs to include details of all assets that are part of the estate along with their values. Personal property may be lumped together (i.e. “living room furniture” versus listing all items separately). A copy of this should be sent to all interested parties, excluding creditors. Unless they sign a waiver stating they do not need a copy of the document.
Finalizing the Estate
As you mark items off your list you will need to start finalizing the administration of the estate. This includes ensuring all creditors are paid, assets have been distributed, and a final tax return has been filed. Once all your duties have been completed you can file paperwork with the court to close out the case.
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