There are many duties that must be fulfilled when named Personal Representative, or executor, of a Will. If someone you care about has passed away and the Will named you as personal representative, you want to think carefully about whether you are able to fulfill the role or if you should decline. Most individuals who have been entrusted to serve as a personal representative are going to want to do so because serving will allow them to respect the wishes of the deceased and play a key role in the probate process. However, acting in this role could potentially leave you legally vulnerable and cause you stress.
Fulfilling the duties of a personal representative can be more complicated than people may anticipate. Personal representatives have a legal obligation to take care of and effectively manage the decedent’s assets throughout the entirety of the probate process, which can take months or years. Also, personal representatives have a fiduciary duty to keep property safe and are subject to potential heir lawsuits for alleged mismanagement or misappropriation of funds.
Also, personal representatives have to fulfill many responsibilities during the probate process, such as opening the estate, creditor notification, and handling various tax returns. Often times, the personal representative is expected to file both an inventory and accounting with the probate court reflecting the assets, income and expenses of the estate, which necessitates excellent record keeping and multiple communications with third parties. In addition, there may be complex estate tax issues, as well as taking steps to change titles and deeds to effectuate the change in asset ownership for distribution purposes.
As many steps require technical legal knowledge of the Maryland Rules and Statutes, and insight into property and investment management, it is advisable to seek professional assistance, as this will assist while coping with the loss of a loved one. Sinclair Prosser Gasior can provide assistance in understanding personal representative duties if you are named in a Will and guide you through a potentially daunting and difficult process.