Personal Representatives in Fairfax Probate
It is essential to understand the role of personal representatives in Fairfax probate. Regardless of whether you were named in a will or are considering trying to qualify, it is important to understand the responsibilities and commitments expected.
A dedicated probate attorney can sit with you and discuss the expectations. This can help you feel empowered to make the decisions that are right for you. An attorney can further serve as a guide to help make the process as smooth as possible.
Who Is Eligible to be an Executor of an Estate?
If a person passes away and has assets that are solely owned by them, those assets become probate assets. In that case, probate must be opened to collect the assets and distribute them to the rightful beneficiaries. The person who opens probate and administers the assets depends on the specific circumstances.
When someone passes away leaving a valid will, the person with priority for being the executor of the estate is the person nominated in the will. If there is no will, Virginia law provides an order of priority for the parties that can qualify to be the executor of the estate. If there is not a will, the surviving spouse has priority. Any other beneficiary of an estate is eligible to serve as the executor after the spouse. That is the case even when more than one person benefits from the estate. The last person having priority is a creditor of the estate.
Deciding Whether to Be a Personal Representative
It is important to consider that serving as a personal representative carries several responsibilities in administering the estate. A representative is required to marshal the assets of the estate, pay any legally enforceable debts, ensure that any necessary taxes are paid, and make distribution either under the terms of the Last Will and Testament or pursuant to the Virginia laws of intestacy.
With that in mind, it is crucial for someone who is named in a will to consider whether they want to handle these responsibilities. When a person is nominated in a will but does not want to serve, they are not required to serve. If the named personal representative wants to be removed after being appointed, they must formally request to be removed from the position, and the court can approve that removal and appoint someone else. If a person is currently serving and dies before the process is over, someone else can be elected to finish the estate administration, as long as they qualify before the court.
Commitments in Fairfax Probate
If a person chooses to be the personal representative, they must understand that they are the representative of the estate. They must do what is best for the estate, which may not necessarily be what is best for the personal representative. It is also essential to understand what their commitments are throughout the process.
The financial responsibilities of the personal representative include creating an inventory of all of the estate assets. They must also obtain a date of death value for all of the assets. This may require having formal appraisals done, especially for real estate and personal property. Once the date of death values are obtained, an inventory must be filed that gives an idea of the value of the estate.
Once all assets are identified and valued, the administrator has the responsibility of collecting them. That means the assets must be retitled in the name of the estate instead of the name of the decedent.
The administrator then has the responsibility of ensuring that all of the estate debts are paid including taxes. Finally, if no other claims are filed, the personal representative has the responsibility of distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
The time commitment can vary depending on the size of the estate. When an estate has numerous assets that are difficult to identify or collect, serving as executor or administrator can require a significant amount of time. This is also where a lawyer with experience with the probate process may be helpful.
An Attorney Is Here to Help Personal Representatives in Fairfax Probate
If a loved one recently passed away and you believe you may have to serve as a personal representative, you most likely have questions. An attorney has answers. They can help you understand the role and responsibilities of the personal representative so that you can make a decision that is right for you. To learn more, call today.