If your loved one passed on without creating a will, their estate will be subject to probate. This means the court will be responsible for distributing the deceased's assets. In fulfillment of this responsibility, the court will appoint a personal representative. If you want to be a personal representative of your loved one's estate, here are some questions you should ask your probate lawyer.
Who Is a Personal Representative?
A personal representative is also called an executor. They are charged with gathering the deceased's assets, notifying all the beneficiaries and creditors, paying debts and expenses, and distributing the remaining assets.
A personal representative also files federal and state tax returns on behalf of the deceased person. Additional tasks include redeeming life insurance policies and canceling unneeded services like auto insurance, utilities, and newspaper delivery.
Who Qualifies to Be a Personal Representative?
A personal representative should be a U.S. resident who is at least 18 years old. They should not have a criminal record and be of sound mind. Also, someone cannot be a personal representative if they are bankrupt.
Additionally, some states do not permit executors from another state unless they are the deceased's family members. If you die without appointing an executor, the court will choose one. In many states, the surviving spouse has the first priority to be appointed as executor, followed by the deceased's children. If more than one person qualifies as executor, and the heirs cannot agree on who to choose, the court will have the final say.
When Can a Personal Representative Be Removed?
Under certain circumstances, the court can remove and replace an executor. If you want to replace a court-appointed personal representative, your probate lawyer has to prove to the court that the removal is in the estate's best interest. Furthermore, your attorney has to show that the executor's actions were inappropriate.
Examples of inappropriate actions include mismanagement of the estate, breaching a fiduciary duty, and embezzlement of funds. A personal representative can also be removed if they are incompetent. The court may also remove an executor for non-fault reasons, like if they fall ill or die.
An executor can act without the court's consent; however, they should keep the court appraised about all their actions. For example, if a person of interest is displeased by the actions of an executor, they can present their concerns in court and request supervised administration or the removal of the personal representative. This is rare and is usually granted in extreme situations.
For more information, contact a probate law attorney in your area.