Posted on: 26 January 2022Share
If a recent death has meant being appointed to a special position, you may be wondering what lies ahead. Personal representatives (or executors) act as the administrator of the estate and their duties are many. For an idea of the main duties to expect, read on.
Gather Important Documents
Many tasks are dependent on certain documents. One of the most important of those documents is the last will and testament. Locating this document is job one for a personal administrator. Other important documents include real estate deeds, tax returns, property tax information, unpaid bills, life insurance policies, and burial arrangements.
Inform Parties of the Death
Checking and savings accounts are usually frozen once death occurs, but you should inform all financial institutions of the death. Phone the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible so that the automatic benefit payments (either retirement or disability payments, if appropriate) will be stopped. Be aware that any overpayments will have to be returned to the SSA. In many cases, the SSA will inform Medicare/Medicaid and the IRS for you. Once that is done, let all creditors know about the death and, once you are fully authorized to do so, close the accounts.
Funeral and Burial Plans
It's not necessarily your responsibility to make these plans, but you should stand ready to assist other family members in doing so. If the deceased already has a plan in place to address their funeral and burial, locate it and provide it to the funeral home. In many cases, the deceased will expect life insurance policies to pay for the final arrangements. In that case, locate the policies at the home, in a safe, or in a bank safe deposit box.
Protect Estate Assets
Often, your job is to keep estate property secure and in good repair throughout probate, which might last for several months. That means not only locking up estate property but keeping it out of the hands of those who may believe they are entitled to it. Only the probate court can order property to be distributed. It also means taking care of homes by doing needed maintenance, keeping the yard trimmed, paying some utility bills to keep certain things running, and more.
Pay Certain Bills
You will be working closely with the probate lawyer for the estate constantly, and this is one area where you should not pay any bill without the approval of the lawyer. The reason for this is that many bills may never need to be paid and some have higher priorities than others.
Speak to a probate attorney to find out more.