When you plan your estate, you can appoint a personal representative to handle your affairs. This person, sometimes called the executor, will distribute your property according to your wishes.
Review the responsibilities of a personal representative so you can select an appropriate person for this important role.
Settling estate debts and taxes
Within 60 days of opening the estate, the personal representative must publish an ad in the local newspaper to notify creditors who may have claims on the estate. Those creditors then have three months to come forward.
The personal representative must also file the final federal and state tax returns for your estate. The IRS requires these documents by April 15 or the established tax deadline for the year after you die.
Managing and distributing estate assets
The personal representative must inventory and value the estate assets and submit a full accounting to the court. He or she also opens a bank account to pay estate costs and deposit assets.
The court requires careful records of all the transactions regarding the estate, including bank statements, bills and receipts. The personal representative must order an annual inventory of estate assets and transactions. The personal representative should also send these reports to all your named beneficiaries and heirs.
If your estate requires probate, the personal representative will also manage this process. He or she may sell estate assets if necessary to repay debt or divide property among several heirs as indicated in your will.
Choosing a trusted person to serve as your representative can provide peace of mind that he or she will manage your estate according to your wishes.