Your personal representative forgets to pay taxes on your estate and, as a result, most of your property ends up going to the IRS rather than your loved ones. It sounds far fetched, but it has happened. The truth is that a personal representative has a lot of obligations and it can quickly become a full-time job. That’s why it’s important to choose the right representative and avoid problems like the one above.
Every estate is different, but generally a personal representative needs to:
- Manage and possibly sell estate property: managing might include repairs, collecting rent or investing property and definitely includes maintaining insurance on it
- Pay taxes and bills on time
- Notify and handle the claims of creditors and beneficiaries, many of whom want to get paid as soon as possible
- File all appropriate court forms and meet court deadlines
- Distribute estate property and close the estate
Not only does the personal representative need to do all of the above, but he or she can be held personally liable for failing to do them, even if the mistake was unintentional. They can also be removed by the court, resulting in delays and extra costs.
There are no guarantees, but the best way to avoid problems is to choose a personal representative who has some familiarity with managing and selling property. A good personal representative should also be well-organized and good at communicating with people. Finally, your representative should have an idea of the overall process and what’s expected of them.
Your personal representative is responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out. For that reason, it’s important to choose someone you trust who’s willing and able to do the job right.