Obligations of a Montgomery County Personal Representative
There are several obligations a Montgomery County personal representative has in the probate process. The personal representative acts on behalf of the estate. They have the power to manage the bank accounts that are in the decedent’s name and eventually close them. They have the power to manage and eventually sell any real estate, as well as the authority to handle all of the decedent’s assets. A well-versed probate attorney can further explain the powers of a personal representative in Montgomery County.
The Role of a Personal Representative
A personal representative has several responsibilities with respect to the administration of an estate in Montgomery County. The primary duties include marshaling the assets of the estate, evaluating and paying any legally enforceable debts, preparing and filing any income or estate tax returns due, and making distributions pursuant to the terms of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament or the Maryland laws of intestacy. The personal representative is also responsible for timely filing all required documents with the court and meeting all deadlines. Beyond that, the personal representative is required to identify and collect all of the estate assets.
Part of this is determining what assets were solely in the decedent’s name at the date of the decedent’s death. Once the personal representative has identified all the assets, they must transfer the name of the asset from the decedent’s name into the name of the estate. When all the estate assets are listed and in one place, the personal representative is required to determine all the enforceable debts the estate is required to pay.
The personal representative, before paying those debts, must determine which debts are required under the law to be paid first out of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative must determine which debts get paid first and once all debts are paid, they can determine the value of the remaining assets. The personal representative is then responsible for making distributing the proper amount to the beneficiaries.
The personal representative must understand that it is a major responsibility to administer another person’s estate. The court overseeing probate administration looks to the personal representative to properly administer an estate. It is their job to make sure that the estate is properly handled before officially closing up the decedent’s affairs.
A personal representative also has a fiduciary obligation to the estate in terms of managing the assets in the same manner as a prudent investor. In a case where a personal representative is uncomfortable or not knowledgeable about managing and protecting assets, especially invested assets, it would be wise for them to consult with an attorney as well as a financial adviser to be sure they are doing everything possible to properly manage the assets.
Time Commitment in Montgomery County
The time commitment for the personal representative depends on the size of the estate and the specific circumstances. Every case is different and has different issues. Sometimes estates can be handled relatively quickly, while in other cases, the process can take much longer. For example, a large estate with many assets that the personal representative must collect will take longer to collect and administer than a smaller estate with fewer assets.
Other times, the financial institutions that hold the assets are not efficient in assisting the personal representative with collecting the required information to close the accounts, which can also elongate the process. There may be other issues such as unpaid taxes that the personal representative must resolve. An estate administration will take approximately one year from start to finish but can take much longer depending on the circumstances.
Discuss the Obligations of a Montgomery County Personal Representative
Being a personal representative in Montgomery County is a large responsibility. In the role, you must work on behalf of the estate to collect and administer the assets of the decedent. This is a process that can last over a year. To learn more about the obligations of a Montgomery County personal representative, call today for a consultation.