What are the main duties of a personal representative?

The main tasks of a Personal Representative are to:

  1. Determine if there are any probate assets;
  2. Identify, gather, and inventory the assets of the deceased;
  3. Secure any and all property and protect the estate from liability.
  4. Receive payments due to the estate, including interest, dividends, and other income (e.g., unpaid salary, vacation pay, and other company benefits);
  5. Set up a checking account for the estate;
  6. Figure out who is going to get what and how much under the Will (if there is no Will, the state’s “interstate succession laws” apply);
  7. Value or appraise the estate’s assets;
  8. Give legal notice to potential creditors (the procedure and deadlines for creditors to file claims vary from state-to-state);
  9. Investigate the validity of all claims against the estate;
  10. Pay funeral bills, outstanding debts, and valid claims;
  11. Pay the expenses of administrating the estate;
  12. Handle various paperwork, such as discontinuing utilities and charge cards, and notifying Social Security, Civil Service, and Veterans Administration of the death;
  13. File and pay income and estate taxes;
  14. Distribute the remaining property in accordance with the instructions provided in the deceased’s Will; and
  15. Close probate.