Understanding the Duties of a Personal Representative

Are you in the process of putting together your estate plan? If so, you will need to decide who to name as a personal representative (or executor).

Under California law, the individual you appoint to this position must be an adult of sound mind. That’s because the role comes with a range of duties and responsibilities, such as:

Prepare an Inventory of the Estate

In the state of California, personal representatives have a duty to prepare an inventory of all the assets and liabilities that will be administered in the estate, including:

  • Real estate holdings
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Vehicles
  • Intellectual property
  • Life insurance policies, and
  • Personal loans

The inventory must show the value of the assets and liabilities. It also has to describe whether the property is community-owned or is wholly owned by the decedent.

Of course, personal representatives don’t need to prepare an inventory by themselves. They can seek help from a California estate planning attorney or accountant.

Provide Notice to Creditors

Personal representatives have a duty to issue a notice of administration of the estate to the decedent’s known or reasonably ascertainable creditors.

This document informs the creditor of the decedent’s passing. It also tells them how they can file a claim with the court.

Personal representatives who act in bad faith or do not make “reasonably diligent efforts” to identify creditors may be held liable for damages.

Prepare and File Tax Returns

Personal representatives have a responsibility to file state and federal tax returns on behalf of the decedent and their estate, including:

  • The decedent’s final state and federal income tax returns
  • State and federal income tax returns for the estate, and
  • Applicable state and federal estate tax returns

If the deceased party owes tax, the personal representative must arrange for payments to be made to the relevant agency. If the decedent was due a refund, the personal representative has an obligation to claim it and add the funds to the estate inventory.

Filing taxes on behalf of a deceased loved one can be challenging, so it is generally wise for personal representatives to speak to a San Diego family lawyer or accountant before submitting any documents.

Distribute the Property of the Estate

The personal representative’s final, but perhaps most important, duty is to distribute the estate’s assets. They must carry out this task in accordance with the terms of the Will and the applicable probate laws.

Once this process has been completed, the court will consider the estate closed and the responsibilities of the personal representative will end.

Your Knowledgeable California Estate Planning Attorney

Do you have questions about the duties and responsibilities of a personal representative? If so, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a skilled San Diego family lawyer at the Semanchik Law Group. We’ve been helping local residents prepare estate plans for years, and we would be more than happy to provide you with the answers you seek!

To speak to a member of our team, all you need to do is give us a call at (619) 535-1811 or fill in our online contact form.