Advice For Executors And Personal Representatives During Probate

May 15, 2023

Executor and Personal Representative Support in Probate

After a close family member or loved one passes away, it’s only natural to feel grief and sadness. In remembrance of a well-lived life, someone must also ensure the deceased person’s estate is disposed of according to state law and the deceased’s wishes. These people are referred to as executors or personal representatives.

A person in this position oversees the estate’s journey through the probate process. Estate planners may name an executor in their last will and testament, but many people do not form an estate plan before passing away. In those situations, the probate court must appoint someone close to the deceased person to handle the estate.

A person appointed to that position, rather than named through the deceased’s will, is called the personal representative. In this guide, we will use the term personal representative also to describe executors.

The probate process varies among states, but the essential components remain the same:

  1. The personal representative goes to court to open the estate.
  2. After receiving the legal power to handle the probate estate, the personal representative notifies interested parties of the estate holder’s death. Interested parties are any people who might inherit some part of the estate.
  3. The personal representative begins compiling a log of the estate’s assets and determining the value of each asset.
  4. Creditors must be made aware of the deceased’s passing. The personal representative can sometimes accomplish this by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. All other debts must be satisfied before distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries.
  5. The personal representative distributes assets according to the deceased’s estate plan or state intestacy laws.

An attorney, accountant, and other professionals often help personal representatives with probate’s technical requirements. However, the personal representative remains responsible for ensuring the fair and lawful distribution of the estate’s property.

Read on to learn more about how to ensure the estate is administered smoothly and efficiently.

Tips for Executors and Personal Representatives in Probate

Below are some ways to help the probate process go smoothly if you are called to oversee a loved one’s estate.

Prepare for a Long Process

If you handle an estate with uncomplicated assets and a cooperative team, probate should not take more than three months. However, that’s not always the case. The probate process has many opportunities for delays, including disputes over the will’s authenticity and missing documents. In incredibly complicated situations, executors can become wrapped up in estate matters for over a year.

Keep in Contact with Beneficiaries and Other Interested Parties

Transparency and honesty always serve the personal representative well during probate. This goes beyond the required disclosures; heirs and beneficiaries want to be updated about key developments regarding their loved one’s estate. Keeping a detailed log of the estate’s assets and overall status can be helpful in this endeavor.

Stay True to the Estate

The personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the estate and its assets. Refrain from making risky investments with the deceased’s money or giving heirs their inheritances before paying off all debts. Misusing your position can result in removal from your role as a personal representative and other serious consequences.

Ask For Help

Probate can be stressful and complicated, especially for those who have never handled an estate. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from attorneys and accountants when needed. They can provide valuable guidance and support in navigating the probate process.

Contact White Oak Wills & Trusts for Probate Support

If you’ve recently been asked or appointed to be a personal representative, chances are high that you’ve never done this before. Don’t feel obligated to figure everything out on your own. The White Oak Wills & Trusts team has helped countless personal representatives in Oregon and Washington state get through the probate process efficiently and without incident.

Whether you have just experienced the loss of a loved one or wish to speak with us about your estate plan, we’re here to help. Call (503) 928-8664 to schedule your consultation through our website. Our team offers trusted legal support to guide you through the probate process. Contact us today for help.

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