Executor or Personal Representative
Most people have heard the term "executor." This is the person,
or sometimes more than one person, who manages the estate of a deceased
person and ultimately distributes property to heirs or beneficiaries.
Colorado uses the term "personal representative" instead of
executor, but the duties are the same. If the person died with a will,
the will generally names the person who will act as personal representative.
If the person died without a will, then Colorado law lists the persons
who have priority to be appointed personal representative.
However, sometimes there is a "tie" and several people have equal
priority. This is common when an unmarried person dies but is survived
by children. The children all have equal rights to be appointed personal
representative. If the children all agree on who should assume the role
of personal representative, those who will not act can resign their right
to be appointed. Don't assume that the oldest should be chosen. Being
a personal representative is not an honorary title - it takes work. Our
Longmont probate attorneys at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. can assist you with this important task.
For probate assistance, call (720) 809-8310 for an initial consultation.
The Duties of a Personal Representative
A personal representative is always appointed by the court even if the
deceased left a
will. Once appointed, the personal representative has several duties. One of
the most important is to put the interests of the estate in front of the
personal representative's own interests. The personal representative
may not favor one heir or beneficiary over another. The personal representative
must manage property of the estate with utmost care.
The personal representative must:
- Collect and inventory the assets of the estate
- Manage the assets during the probate process
- Pay the final bills of the deceased
- Make distributions to the heirs or beneficiaries
Many family members are concerned that the burden of the debt will fall
on them. Unless a family member co-signed on the debt, surviving family
are not responsible for the deceased person's debt. However, creditors
must be paid from assets of the estate. It is important to first collect
all of the assets of the estate and determine their value before paying
creditors. Similarly, the personal representative should not make distributions
of property until all of the creditors are known. Creditor claims are
subject to certain time limits and once these pass, the claims are cut off.
Once everything is finished the estate can be closed. Generally speaking,
a simple estate can be administered in less than a year. But there is
no time limit, so if complications arise, there is no need to rush.
For more information,
please give our probate lawyers in Longmont a
call as soon as possible.