The purpose of a personal representative is to carry out the wishes of a deceased individual regarding distribution of their final assets and to handle any final affairs for their business, such as filing tax returns and paying bills. While administering an estate is much easier than many years ago, it can still be very complicated for a person who is not familiar with the process of serving as a personal representative.
Many estates can take anywhere from a few months to a year to conclude probate, making it all the more important to hire a Missouri personal representative attorney to assist you. In all cases except the most simple of estates, it can be beneficial to hire a Missouri personal representative attorney to sit down with you at the outset of the case and determine the core issues to be addressed and handled during this time. You should choose an attorney who has a focus in trusts and estates to have a better understanding of what your role is and the common pitfalls that you will want to avoid.
Understanding Personal Representative Duties
One of the most important things for a new personal representative is to understand they have a fiduciary duty to the estate and to beneficiaries of that estate. This means you have a responsibility to act impartially when it relates to all parties within that estate. Each person should eb treated the same and you have an overall responsibility to administer the estate with prudence and care, making sure to put the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in front of your own interests.
As the personal representative you are responsible for a variety of different tasks, including paying the bills of the estate, collecting and inventorying all of the assets and debts in the estate, managing the assets of the estate during the probate process, making distributions to pay final taxes, pay out creditor claims and then make distributions to heirs and beneficiaries of the estate and closing out the estate after all of these issues have been completed.
If you have been nominated by a person as a personal representative in a will, you will have the eligibility to carry out written instructions of the deceased person related to their estate. The original will is usually one of the first and most important pieces of paper that you need to find as the personal representative. If a will cannot be found, an attorney can help guide you through the intestate probate process.
In these situations, the state will determine how the assets in the estate will be divided amongst surviving family members. Identifying documents and pulling them all together is one of the first steps that you need to take as a personal representative. It can be helpful to retain a personal representative attorney in Missouri to help you ensure that you have considered all possible documents that might exist. There is a good chance that you might not know about all of the documents or tactics created by the deceased individual and this is where having the support of a personal representative attorney in Missouri can be helpful.
The personal representative is a court representative and the official authority on searching for any important documents such as trust agreements, prenuptial agreements, life insurance statements or policies, burial and funeral plans, safety deposit, rental agreement and keys, military records, divorce papers, marriage, birth and death certificates, retirement statements, income tax returns, motor vehicle titles, unpaid bills, health insurance papers, business agreements, bankruptcy filings, deeds of trusts, and brokerage account statements.
Once you have been approved as the personal representative, you will be installed in this role by being given letters from the court. These letters are used to go to organizations and financial institutions to show you are the approved authority to act on behalf of the estate. Insurance companies and banks, for example, might ask for them when you say that you are acting on behalf of the estate. For more information on this process, you want to recognize the support provided by an experienced area personal representative lawyer.