Locate the Will
Hopefully, the person who nominated you as their personal representative will have informed you beforehand and either given you a copy of his or her will or told you where it could be located. Once you have the will, it will need to be filed with the probate court to initiate the process. You will then need to ask the court to appoint you as personal representative of the estate. Once the court grants your request, you will have written legal authority to take action regarding the individual’s assets and get access to his or her estate records.
Conduct an Inventory of the Estate
Once you have legal authority, you will then be responsible for conducting an inventory of the estate, which will include all assets and debts. This also includes finding out if there were any pending debts which were owed to the decedent. You will need to file the inventory by four months after your appointment, along with an appraisal of the fair market value of each item of property as of the day the individual died.
Creditors and Debts
After you have identified all of the known debts, you are going to be responsible for making sure the creditors are notified that the individual has died. The personal representative will complete a form for the court which lists all known debtors and where he or she mailed notice of the administration. By sending the creditors the information, it provides them with notice and an opportunity to make claims against the estate for the debts. You will approve or deny debts to be paid from the estate and will be responsible for paying any taxes which are owed. Additionally, you may have to file a tax return on behalf of the estate as well as numerous other tax-related forms.
Paying the Heirs
Once all of the debts and tax matters are handled, you will then need to see that the heirs are paid according to the provisions of the will. If the debts or taxes took some or all of the estate, the heirs’ bequests would be reduced or eliminated depending on what is left. You will then file forms with the IRS regarding the distributions.
Being a personal representative for a loved one’s estate is a tremendous responsibility and the requirements can be complicated. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have experience with California probate and helping personal representatives understand their duties under the law. Schedule a consultation today to learn more and start your solution. /