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Understanding Your Role as the Personal Representative (Executor) of a Will

27.01.2015 by Law Firm of Seglund Gabe Pawlak Groth & Kelley in Estate Planning

Being named the personal representative (formerly called the “executor”) of a will is a big honor and responsibility so it is important to understand what legal obligations the position entails.

While it is a topic that is rarely discussed around the family table, determining who will be the personal representative of your will can be an important issue to address. The personal representative of a will is the person who is responsible for managing the deceased person’s financial affairs after their death. The personal representative can be named in the will and is appointed by a court.

By naming a specific personal representative, you can provide that person with the advance notice of what will be expected of them and you can ensure that the responsibility is given to someone you trust and who is willing to serve in the position.

What are the personal representative’s responsibilities?

In a nutshell, a personal representative is responsible for taking care of property, bills, taxes, and assets that are left after someone dies. This person is responsible for making sure debts are paid as necessary and assets are given to the correct recipients. A personal representative is also responsible for overseeing probate court proceedings or hiring a probate lawyer to help. While many people are honored by the role itself, personal representatives are also entitled to be paid for their services. State laws regulate the amounts, but the service fee is paid out by the deceased person’s estate. 

Professional Assistance is Available

If you have been named as personal representative, you are not legally required to serve – you are given the opportunity to do so. If the primary personal representative of a will declines the role, then the responsibility is given to the secondary personal representative if one is named in the will. If no alternative person is specified, then a probate court will assign one.

If you have been assigned as personal representative of a will and would like to serve but are unsure of your responsibilities or how to appropriately handle matters, a probate lawyer can be a big help. Managing the responsibilities of personal representative requires attention to detail and thorough follow-up. If the deceased person is leaving behind only a few common assets (such as a home, vehicles, savings, insurance, etc.) then there may not be too much to deal with. In some cases, assets are handled through a probate court procedure. This process requires a lot of documentation and generally does not involve a lot of court appearances. However, if there are disputes, the assistance of a probate lawyer can help the process run more smoothly and efficiently, any help to eliminate or mediate disputes over minor assets and small issues. Probate lawyers can also help the personal representative manage significant tax liabilities, diversified property holdings, investment accounts, or other more complicated situations.

Michigan Legal Solutions

Our experienced attorneys are committed to providing our clients with the guidance and support that they need to resolve their estate and probate issues. With over five decades serving clients in Southeastern Michigan, the attorneys of Michigan Legal Solutions (Seglund Gabe Quinn Elowsky & Pawlak, PLC) have the knowledge and resources to resolve your legal matters.

The laws pertaining to estates, administration of trusts, guardianship and other cases in Probate Court are complex and ever changing. Experienced legal counsel can help navigate the maze of procedures involved in handling a decedent’s estate, guardianship, conservatorship or trust. Contact our team today to set up an initial consultation.

beck-office-centerMichigan Legal Solutions

28345 Beck Road, Suite 401

Wixom, MI 48393

Phone: (248) 869-0030

Fax: (248) 869-0039

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