An integral part of estate planning is to name a personal representative, also known as an executor of the estate.
All wills must go through the probate process, which requires extensive involvement of the personal representative.
What is probate?
Probate is the process that transfers assets named in a will or belonging to a deceased person without a will to the rightful beneficiaries or heirs. In Colorado, estates amounting to less than $50,000 in personal property do not require probate action. Estates with a valid will go through an informal probate process in which the court will do little more than act as administrator to ensure legal compliance. Contested wills go through a formal probate process, and the personal representative will play an active role.
What role does the personal representative play in the probate process?
Upon the estate owner’s death, the named personal representative obtains control over all aspects of the estate. During the probate process, they will notify creditors of the original estate owner’s death and use estate funds to pay off any valid claims.
For a larger estate, this process may include consolidating, valuing, and liquidating assets before making distributions. For their services, a personal representative can take a fee. However, they must track the time spent conducting official duties to justify the compensation requested.
Personal representatives have a duty to be loyal and fair to every beneficiary and act as impartial administrators, putting the estate’s interests above their own. The job requires prudence and honesty to ensure adherence to the deceased’s wishes.