Duties of a personal representative of an estate vary by state, but responsibilities typically involve seeing that the estate gets handled according to the wishes of the deceased, with failure leaving the personal representative open for fiduciary breach lawsuits. Also called the executor, duties of the personal representative generally include identifying and collecting assets for distribution to those named in the will, paying the bills left owing and filing lawsuits to protect the estate as needed.
The first steps undertaken by a personal representative involve figuring out all property owned by the deceased, collecting it and appraising its value. This can include unpaid interest on bank accounts, dividends due from stock ownership, and real property such as homes, antiques and jewelry. The personal representative must file all of this data in an information report for the probate court.
The next step is providing notice of death to all the deceased's creditors. This notice gives all creditors a set amount of time to file claims against the estate, and when this period ends, the personal representative must pay all legitimately owed claims. After this, the representative must file an accounting form with the probate court and file any local, state and federal tax forms on behalf of the estate.
The personal representative sees to the distribution of assets or property to those mentioned in the deceased's will. After appropriately distributing all assets, the personal representative files for closure of the estate with the probate court.