If you are preparing your Last Will & Testament (and other Maryland/DC estate planning documents), among other things stated in your Will, you will need to nominate a “personal representative” (and, often, a secondary and tertiary personal representative). In some jurisdictions, this person is called an “Executor.” So, the question is: what does a personal representative do? Most will say that the duties of your personal representative is to wind down your affairs after death and follow through on the instructions that you set forth in your Will. But, even this is rather vague. As a matter of practice, what does a personal representative do? If you need a Will prepared and want some suggestions on how to choose the best personal representative, contact the Maryland/DC Estate Planning attorneys here at the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Call for a consultation at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC. Below is a discussion of some of the tasks and duties of your personal representative.
Broadly speaking, there are several “big” tasks that must be done post-death including these:
- Funeral arrangements – or, at least, making sure that the arrangements are being made
- Getting final bills paid – including for the funeral
- Finding all assets and making an inventory
- Disbursing/distributing bequests and inheritances
- Handling proceedings before the Maryland or DC probate court – this is necessary, first, so that the personal representative obtains legal authority to act on behalf of the decedent’s Estate; this, then allows for access to financial accounts, the opening of an Estate checking account, etc.
- Getting the final tax returns completed
There are, of course, many smaller tasks nested among these “bigger” ones (and there are many other miscellaneous duties). But, from this larger overhead view, it can be seen that a personal representative has a lot to do, particularly if the estate is large and there are a lot of specific bequests and heirs. This is one reason that it may be beneficial to have a trusted friend or colleague or even your attorney become your personal representative. First, given the number of tasks, it is best to have someone with some experience in handling financial and personal matters. Second, this allows the Estate’s work to be done while the members of the family can spend the necessary time grieving.
Note that your personal representative can use monies from your Estate to hire professionals to help with the process. Thus, attorneys can be hired to handle the probate proceedings, accountants and tax professionals can handle the tax returns and even professionals can be hired to prepare the inventory and valuation reports. Here is a short list of some of the more important “smaller” tasks:
- As noted, getting authority for and opening an Estate financial account
- Sending notices of death and probate – including social media and other online forums
- Receiving, negotiating, paying or disputing creditor and other claims against the Estate
- Handling property liens and similar matters
- Winding up business ownership transfer (if any)
- Arranging the inventory and valuation at the time of death – needed for tax and other purposes
- Getting approval from the probate court and then transferring Estate assets per the Will
- And more
Maryland and DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We also have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.