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Personal Representatives in DC Estate Administration Cases

Oftentimes, personal representatives in DC estate administration cases have the responsibility of managing the financial assets, including stocks and bonds, in a prudent fashion. That may require the help of a financial advisor, financial planner, or accountant. The representative should not and cannot mismanage funds in a way that would cause a detriment to the estate or its value. Contact a skilled estate planning attorney to better understand a representatives role in your funds of the estate should you give them authority.

What are the Duties of a Personal Representative?

The duties of a Personal Representative when administering a DC estate include marshaling the assets of the estate and ensuring that debts or claims that have been filed are valid. That includes making sure a decedent’s personal tax returns and, potentially, fiduciary income tax returns are filed and paid. The latter usually requires the help of an accountant to determine whether a fiduciary income tax return has to be prepared and filed. However, it is still the responsibility of the Personal Representative to ensure that taxes are settled.

In addition to handling debts and claims, the Personal Representative has the responsibility of collecting all estate assets and determining their date-of-death values. Once they have done that, they are required to report those values and total valuable of the estate on an inventory that is required to be presented to the interested persons of the estate. Once distribution has been made, the representative has the responsibility of closing the estate with the court. Sometimes, that requires filing an accounting with the court, and in other situations, submitting an accounting to the interested persons of the estate.

What to Look for in a DC Personal Representative

Personal representatives in DC estate administration cases are responsible for marshaling the assets of the estate, filing and paying any required income or estate tax returns, paying legally enforceable debts, and then making distribution either pursuant to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament or the DC laws of intestacy.

Hallmarks of a good fit for choosing a DC Personal Representative include someone over the age of 18 years, a US citizen or legal resident, with no legal history, who can qualify for a bond if necessary. Individuals that reflect financial savvy and are detail oriented can also be a candidate for the position as well.

Often, potential clients think that they have to choose a family member. Personal Representatives do not need to be related to the testator. The testator may choose to name a friend, colleague, or other acquaintance if he or she feels that they are the best candidate for the position.

Appointing an Executor

A hearing to appoint personal representatives in DC estate administration cases may not be necessary. Often, the court will either appoint the person who petitioned the court to become a Personal Representative or it will outright reject the pleadings and not appoint the person. In standard probate proceedings, or in cases where the individual that has priority to serve is not clear, the court may require a hearing to appoint the Personal Representative.

Unsupervised vs. Supervised Estate

One of the main differences between an unsupervised estate and a supervised estate in DC is the filings required to the court. In a supervised estate, the Personal Representative must file an Inventory and accounting with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In an unsupervised estate, even though inventory and an accounting have to be prepared and provided to the interested persons, they are not required to be approved by the court.

Record-Keeping Expectations for Estate Administration

Under DC law, any asset that is in the name of the estate is subject to the control of the Personal Representative. If a person leaves assets to others by beneficiary designation or by joint titling such as joint bank accounts or life insurance policies with a beneficiary designation, those assets cannot be controlled by the representative.

The Personal Representative is required to (1) marshal the assets of the estate (2) review and pay any legally enforceable debts (3) file any income or estate tax returns due, and pay any associated taxes and (4) make distribution of the assets pursuant to the DC laws of intestacy or the decedent’s Last Will and Testament.

Defining Authority of a Last Will and Testament

If a person does not leave a last will and testament, someone will be appointed Personal Representative according to the laws with respect to priority, and in DC there is an order of priority for next of kin to serve. That list will be followed by the court in terms of appointing personal representatives in DC estate administration cases.

People can ensure that their wishes on what is to happen to their property will be followed by making a last will and testament and naming a person to administer their estate. They can name one or more successor Personal Representatives to serve in the event their first choice is not able to.