When a loved one passes away you might have already known that you were named as the personal representative in their will. While this might have come as a surprise when the court needed to appoint someone in the role of personal representative because a will didn’t exist. No matter how you came to find yourself in this role, you may need the support of an experienced lawyer to help you.
What Does a Personal Representative Do?
At their core, the personal representative, also known in some states as the executor, needs to bring together all of the assets belonging to the deceased’s probate estate. This is the very first step in determining what belonged to the deceased. Not every asset that the deceased had will be part of their probate estate so you will not be responsible for managing every little detail of the paperwork associated with their life.
For example, it is possible that this family member had a life insurance policy strictly for the purpose of passing on assets quickly and easily after they passed away. The life insurance policy is not part of the probated estate, meaning that you can exclude it from the inventorying process. After the personal representative has been appointed to serve in the case and has gathered this initial inventory, their job is then to determine the debts and taxes owed by the estate.
The estate will need to pay out those creditors and taxes prior to any distributions being made to the surviving family members, also known as beneficiaries. Because this is such a detail oriented process that can require multiple different steps, many personal representatives choose to hire a New York personal representative lawyer. As a New York personal representative attorney can tell you, the sooner that you engage the legal counsel the easier it is for you to handle this process. You can also avoid unnecessary or unpleasant surprises associated with things like other beneficiaries arguing that you are not handling these tasks appropriately or that you have engaged in some kind of illegal behavior.
This is because a personal representative could be held personally accountable for decisions that they make that harm the overall estate. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years for probate to be completed based on how long it takes for the personal representative to carry out their duties. For example, it might be hard for a personal representative to find all of the assets or the beneficiaries of the estate and extra time is needed for them to complete their research process. In these circumstances it can be beneficial to have a personal representative lawyer in New York to help you understand advanced ways of searching for this information and the step by step process for completing these materials.
What if Probate Is Overwhelming?
Many family members do not realize all that is entailed in the process of probate and can become overloaded very quickly. This is when it is helpful to have a personal representative lawyer in your area who knows the ins and outs of probate and some of the most common challenges that you might face. They can help you break this down into daily or weekly tasks since most people serving as a personal representative also have a fulltime job or other responsibilities.
In these circumstances, having a lawyer who is very familiar with the probate process can be helpful in organizing things for you and also making this feel much more feasible to accomplish. You’ll also get the peace of mind that you have handled things in the proper order to make things easier for you and ultimately for the beneficiaries. When you find yourself in these circumstances, do not hesitate to contact an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who has helped many other people in these similar circumstances to figure out how to move forward and complete probate administration properly.