Having someone select you as the personal representative of his or her estate can elicit both positive and negative reactions. You may be honored, but at the same time, you may feel intimidated by the responsibility that comes along with it. Before you agree to take on this role, you should understand exactly the wide variety of responsibilities involved.
1. File the Will with the Probate Court
One of the first duties a personal representative (which is also called the “executor” in some other states) is tasked with is to submit the deceased’s will to probate.
According to Wisconsin law, once you learn that you are the personal representative, you must file the deceased’s original will the Register in Probate for the appropriate county within 30 days. This filing is required even if the deceased estate does not require an actual probate process.
2. Continuing to Pay Off Bills
Your role as personal representative also makes you responsible for protecting the estate’s assets.
This often involves:
- Changing legal ownership of assets from the deceased to the estate
- Continuing to pay the bills
- Opening a separate bank account in the name of the estate from which the bills are paid.
3. Inventorying & Appraising Assets
The personal representative must also determine exactly what is contained in the estate.
This means creating an inventory of assets, including the deceased’s:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Personal property
For some of these assets, including real estate and some others, you may need to obtain an appraised value of the item. The Internal Revenue Service requires appraisals for individual items with a value of $3,000 or more or, if you are dealing with a group of similar items, the number is $10,000. This means that, if you think the value of an asset is above, or even close to, that dollar amount, you should get the appraisal.
4. Paying Off Debts to Creditors
Paying the estate’s debts is another key element. A personal representative must also locate, and then pay, all of the estate’s creditors. The court will set a deadline by which everyone to whom the deceased owed money must present their claims. This period for creditor claims is between three and four months.
The personal representative must publish a newspaper advertisement notifying creditors to submit their claims before the deadline.
5. Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries
Of course, one of the most essential tasks is distributing the estate’s assets and disposing of estate property. This may require retaining professionals to locate some beneficiaries named in the will. It may also necessitate working with real estate agents to sell property, or holding an auction or “estate sale” to dispose some assets.
Are Personal Representatives Paid?
It is important to note that the law permits personal representatives to be paid for their services. In Wisconsin, the fee for a personal representative is 2% of the estate’s value.
Ease the Process with Estate Law Partners
In many cases, a personal representative can ease, and simplify, his or her role by working with a capable Wisconsin estate planning attorney. Estate Law Partner has years of experience dealing with probate administration matters, and can provide you with the advice and assistance you need as a personal representative.
Contact us through our website to schedule your confidential, no obligation initial consultation.