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How to be a Personal Representative Amidst Family Conflict

Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C.

     In Colorado, the person appointed by the court to administer an estate is known as a personal representative. The personal representative’s purpose is to fulfil the wishes of a decedent regarding the distribution of assets and to complete the personal business of the decedent. The probate process can fuel family conflict and can make the role of personal representative especially difficult.

A personal representative’s responsibilities include:

1. Locating and taking control of assets of the estate
2. Managing assets of the estate
3. Paying bills of the estate
4. Making distributions to heirs and beneficiaries of the estate
5. Closing the estate

     In carrying out the duties of a personal representative, you must act with care and you must act impartially towards all beneficiaries of the estate. In addition to the duty to act impartially, you will be required to meet filing deadlines, communicate with interested parties and court staff, carry out all official duties, protect and preserve assets, timely pay debts and taxes, consult professionals (lawyers, accountants or appraisers) as necessary, and make decisions pursuant to the terms of the will, the best interests of the beneficiaries, and the law.

     As personal representative, you may be liable to the beneficiaries of an estate for an unrealized gain the estate should have received or any loss to the estate. Additionally, as personal representative, you may be liable for the failure to exercise reasonable care and skill in administering the estate or negligently or intentionally acting, or failing to act, such that the action or lack of action breaches your duties as personal representative to the estate.

     To protect against allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, you should keep thorough records, maintain meticulous organization, take notes, and ensure you understand all of the rules and responsibilities related to being a personal representative. In a case of familial conflict, it may be helpful to contact an attorney regarding advice to any potential problems that may occur or to assist you in understanding all of the rules and responsibilities of a personal representative.

Contact Our Estate Attorneys Today

     Acting as Personal Representative for an estate can be a difficult road to navigate when there are parties to the estate have divergent interests. Our attorneys can assist you with accomplishing your duties as a personal representative. If you have any questions about how to be a personal representative, please contact our office today.

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