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.
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.
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, and continuing to pay the bills. This usually involves opening a separate bank account in the name of the estate from which the bills are paid.
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 and 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.
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.
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.
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.
In many cases, a personal representative can ease, and simplify, his or her role by working with a capable Wisconsin estate planning attorney. Madison trust attorney Daniel J. Krause of Krause Law Offices LLC has years of experience dealing with probate administration matters, and can provide you with the advice and assistance you need as a personal representative. Consult Attorney Daniel J. Krause to get the information and help you need to ensure your loved one’s estate gets settled efficiently and correctly.
Contact us through our website to schedule your confidential, no obligation initial consultation.