Responsibilities Of Personal Representatives
The personal representative, or executor, plays a vital role in finalizing a decedent’s financial affairs in the probate process. The power and duties of a person to act as personal representative begin upon appointment by the court. The personal representative is a fiduciary. Individuals who have been designated in a decedent’s will or appointed by the court to serve as personal representatives will be met with certain tasks and challenges throughout the probate process. When the firm represents the personal representative, our job is to protect that person from liability. When the firm represents an heir, our job is to hold the personal representative accountable.
The St. Paul, Minnesota, law firm of Mason & Helmers provides comprehensive legal assistance to personal representatives throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, the rest of Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Responsibilities of Personal Representatives
In Minnesota, the role of the personal representative includes the following:
- Collecting and protecting the decedent’s assets: The personal representative assumes all responsibility over the decedent’s assets. While it is not necessary for the personal representative to take physical control, it may be necessary to ensure that the possessions are secure.
- Inventorying the assets: The personal representative is responsible for taking inventory of the assets and obtaining a valuation of the assets. Real property and personal property are included in the inventory.
- Paying estate debts: This includes paying creditors, funeral expenses, taxes, attorney’s fees and other costs associated with the individual’s death. A personal representative who distributes assets to a beneficiary before paying creditors risks personal liability.
- Final accounting: The personal representative may be required to file a final accounting that includes documentation regarding the assets, receipts and distribution.
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries: The personal representative distributes the assets in accordance with the decedent’s wishes as written in the will. A personal representative who distributes assets with disregard for the decedent’s wishes as written in the will also risks personal liability to those who did not receive their proper share.
- The personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation and reimbursement of expenses, including attorneys’ fees.
Disputes Can Arise in Administration of an Estate
Conflicts over a will, trust or other directive can lead to litigation. The firm protects the rights and best interests of fiduciaries, heirs and beneficiaries in case a will contest or other conflict arises. When disputes arise, we regularly represent fiduciaries and beneficiaries after identifying the scope of our engagement and the interests we represent.
Contact the Firm for More Information on the Role of Personal Representative in Probate and Estate Administration
To learn more about the role of serving as a personal representative, call the Minneapolis-St. Paul area law firm of Mason & Helmers. The firm can be reached locally at 651-323-2548 or toll free at 877-389-5533. You can also contact us online.