Who is a Personal Representative?
A Personal Representative is a gender-neutral legal term used in Indiana and is the person(s) named to wrap up a deceased’s affairs and distribute the assets. Other states may refer to this person as the Executor (male) or executrix (female) of the Estate. If the Decedent had a Will, they typically would have named their choice for Personal Representative in this document. Once the estate is opened with the court, the court will officially approve the Personal Representative, thus giving them the authority to handle the affairs and assets of the decedent.
What does a Personal Representative have to do?
There are several things you are tasked with handling, while some of them may not seem difficult, they can be time-consuming and hiring an attorney may help.
1. Locate the Will and determine how distribution of assets is to go. This is more involved than just finding the assets and handing them out to the heirs, and there are time frames that should be followed. Must probate the Will.
2. Locate and secure all assets making sure they are locked, insured, and harbored in a safe place. This includes securing the house, vehicles, bank accounts, and personal belongings.
3. Keep the utilities and mortgage paid, but cancel the non-essentials like cable, dish, internet and the newspaper.
4. Open an estate bank account.
5. Review all bills, and determine what must be paid now.
6. Determine if tax returns must be filed.
7. Everything must be kept separate than the Personal Representative’s assets.
8. Determine all heirs to inherit under the Will. Get approval by all to close the estate and distribute the funds.
9. Adhere to deadlines set by the court to close the estate and file certain documents.
10. You as Personal Representative could have personal liability if handled incorrectly.
This is not an exhaustive list of the duties of a Personal Representative and every case is different.
Having an experienced attorney guide you through the process helps ensure you do not miss something important and can answer any questions that may arise.