What Does a Personal Representative Do?

What Does a Personal Representative Do?

A deceased may name an individual as their personal representative of their Estate.  However, even when a deceased person does so, the appointment of such person requires Court approval and can be challenged by any interested party.  A personal representative’s duties are larger than that of an executor of a will and are largely defined by California Probate Code Section 8404.  The Probate Code also defines a personal representative’s liabilities and permits the Court to require such person to post a bond in order to serve in the position.  
In order to make sure a personal representative fully appreciates their liability and duties, the Court will require a personal representative to sign an acknowledgment of receipt of the “Duties and LIabilities of Personal Representative” in Probate Code Section 8404 which states in part that “An attorney is best qualified to advise you about these matters,” to not hold the personal representative at fault.  The scope of a personal representative’s obligations include all of real and personal property assets of the Estate, all of the outstanding taxes and debts of the Estate, and all of the duties owed to the beneficiaries and to the Court including notifications, accountings, inventories, appraisals, expenses and distributions. It becomes the personal representative’s obligation to give the notices prescribed by law to all creditors within four months of their appointment.
A personal representative is required to responsibly manage Estate property and investments.  This means money has to be kept in interest bearing and insured accounts, properly manage risks and investments to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to the beneficiaries, and properly manage any real property assets of the estate.  No commingling of accounts is permitted and court approval must be obtained to approve spending and investments. A personal representative has a duty to locate and take possession of all Estate property and determine it’s value before then filing an inventory and appraisal with the Court all within a statutorily prescribed time period.  All changes in title need to be implemented through appropriate deeds, filings and recordings.
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