If a loved one has recently passed away and you have questions about how to manage their estate, this is most important if you are appointed as a personal representative. As a New Mexico personal representative lawyer can tell you, the party who is responsible for handling the administration of the estate might be called an executor or personal representative. But the responsibilities are the same.
It is the primary responsibility of this person to gather all of the assets and debts associated with the estate and to ensure that they are promptly addressed in estate administration. This is not always an easy task as it can take some time for an estate administrator to gather all of these details and to verify that they have considered proper payment of all the necessary creditor claims before making distributions to beneficiaries.
An estate executor or personal representative might find themselves overwhelmed by this process, particularly because probate can take a lot longer than expected. In these circumstances it’s beneficial to have a personal representative attorney to answer your questions and to help you with the full scope of tasks that must be addressed in a particular order. Finding an experienced personal representative attorney in New Mexico is one way to ensure that you have handled all of the different aspects of closing out estate administration and have minimized the possibility for claims against you. Executors and personal representatives have what is known as a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries of the estate.
This means that it is their responsibility to inform beneficiaries about the process of probate and to provide accountings of any financial actions taken within the estate. In the event that a beneficiary comes forward to open a will contest or other type of estate dispute it could be alleged that the executor or personal representative has violated their fiduciary duty. This person could be held personally responsible for damage done to the estate if the beneficiaries can effectively show that the personal representative failed to uphold the standards expected. This makes it all the more important to retain a personal representative lawyer in New Mexico to guide you through this process and answer your questions.
Sitting down with this person at the outset of a probate estate can reveal some of the challenges that might be faced and can give you a checklist and actionable priority schedule for how to proceed with probate. Most loved ones are not prepared for the paperwork that must be filed with court and this can inflame existing or new family conflicts when other beneficiaries do not understand the process or believe that a personal representative is not upholding their legal responsibilities.
You can make this much easier for yourself by having legal guidance at each step of the process and someone to turn to in the event that the early stages of a dispute are brewing. A personal representative lawyer can help you with each phase of the case from gathering all of the assets and completing the estate inventory, to notifying creditors about the opening of the estate, to paying out distributions to beneficiaries, and closing the estate with a final and formal accounting. In the best case scenario, this will only take a couple of months and should be relatively streamlined, but in the worst case scenario can lead to claims against the estate that can be costly, time consuming and stressful for an executor. Make sure you have the right legal counsel to support you in each step.