Who Is the Personal Representative? (Transcript)
D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
The personal representative's role is to act on the estate's behalf. Now, the personal representative is typically the person that's nominated in the decedent's last will and testament. And when upon petition to the court through an attorney then the court appoints that person as the personal representative. Now interestingly, sometimes people think that my mom may have named me in the will, and naming me in the will says I have the ability to act as the personal representative, but it's only upon petition to the court and the appointment by the court does the personal representative actually have the ability to act. I mean, typically, especially in Pinellas County, the court is always going to make sure that the personal representative is bonded to make sure that the assets are used and spent in the correct way. But once the personal representative is appointed by the court, then basically their duties are to manage all the assets, so to go to bank accounts and close the bank accounts down to put them in a central location to deal with stocks, bonds, to deal with land.
So if the decedent owned land and the personal representatives typically go in to sell the property. But the personal representative's main job is to inventory the assets and to marshal all the assets together. And as part of that process, they also need to publish for any creditors. And it turns out this typically helps publish the creditors. Then the executor makes sure that all of the bills are taken care of. So if there's any unpaid bills, then the personal representative makes sure that the creditor gets billed, then gets notice of any potential claims, then they have to make a claim in the estate. So if we could summarize what the executor's job to do is to inventory the assets, to gather all the assets, to pay all the bills, to dispute potential bills, and then to make sure everything is wrapped up accordingly.
And that's done through a final accounting where the personal representatives make sure this is how the money that came in, this is where all the money got, went, such as paying bills, paying costs, things like that. Then making sure the assets are distributed according to the last will and testament. Or if there's no last will and testament according to the laws of intestacy, which basically means going into the family in an orderly manner.