Last Updated: July 8, 2024

Introduction to Probate: Roles and Responsibilities of the Personal Representative

In the third article of our series on probate in Utah, we’ll explain the important role of the personal representative. Knowing their responsibilities can help make sure the estate is managed correctly. Who is a Personal Representative? A personal representative, also called an executor or administrator, is responsible for managing…

In the third article of our series on probate in Utah, we’ll explain the important role of the personal representative. Knowing their responsibilities can help make sure the estate is managed correctly.

Who is a Personal Representative?

A personal representative, also called an executor or administrator, is responsible for managing the decedent’s estate. If a probate action is filed, the court will formally appoint the personal representative. If there is a will, it usually names the personal representative. If not, the court will appoint one based on priority established by statute – usually a close family member.

Duties of a Personal Representative

The personal representative can has several important duties. Not every estate will require all of the following, but these are some of the more common tasks a personal representative will have.

  1. Contacting Heirs and Creditors:
    • Notify all heirs and/or beneficiaries about the probate.
    • Inform creditors of the decedent’s death.
  2. Inventorying the Estate:
    • Collect and list all the decedent’s assets, like real estate, bank accounts, and valuables.
    • File an inventory report with the court.
  3. Managing Estate Assets:
    • Take care of the estate’s assets, paying bills to keep the estate’s value.
  4. Paying Debts and Taxes:
    • Pay outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate.
    • File the decedent’s final income tax return and any estate tax returns.
  5. Selling Property:
    • Sell estate property if needed to pay off debts or taxes, with court approval if required.
  6. Distributing Assets:
    • Distribute the remaining assets according to the will or, if there is no will, distribute assets to the heirs as set forth in Utah’s intestate succession laws.
    • Prepare a final report detailing all transactions and distributions.
  7. Closing the Estate:
    • Submit a final accounting to the court for approval.
    • Ask the court to formally close the estate.

Other responsibilities can include:

  • Filing Legal Documents: Submit necessary legal documents to the probate court.
  • Handling Legal Disputes: Address any disputes or claims against the estate.
  • Acting in the Estate’s Best Interest: Make decisions to protect the estate’s value.

Serving as a personal representative is a big responsibility that needs careful attention. If you are named a personal representative or are considering who you should name in your own will, it is essential to understand the duties involved.

Our next article will explore the simplified process for administering an estate using a small estate affidavit in Utah. For help, contact Stone River Law for guidance through every step of probate.

Originally Published: July 8, 2024

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