Executor or Personal Representative Lawyers in Colorado
Your Legal Guides for Probate & Other Processes
Most people have heard the term "executor" but do not quite know what it means. The executor is the person — or sometimes persons — 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 decedent died with a will, the will generally names who will act as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
Have you been surprised to find that you’re the personal representative of a loved one’s estate? Being a personal representative is not exactly an honorary title because it takes work, knowledge, and dedication to follow the wishes of the decedent. To take the stress of being a personal representative of your own shoulders, come to Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. in Colorado and work with a team of attorneys who can assist you in understanding and fulfilling your new duties.
What Happens When No Executor is Named?
There is nothing that guarantees a decedent will have named a personal representative. If the decedent died without a will or did not include that important note in their 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 the personal representative, those who will not act can resign their right to be appointed. Don't assume that the oldest should be chosen, though, as this is often not the case.
Dealing with Lingering Debts
Many family members are concerned that the burden of the decedent’s debt will fall on them. Unless a family member co-signed on the debt, surviving family members are not responsible for the deceased person's remaining debts.
However, creditors must be paid from assets of the estate first, before assets are redistributed to named beneficiaries. It is important to first collect all of the assets of the estate and determine their value before paying creditors. The executor will have to notify each known creditor of the decedent’s passing, allowing that creditor to make a claim against the estate. Creditor claims are subject to certain time limits, though. Once the statute of limitations expires, creditor claims are cut off and any remaining assets can be passed to beneficiaries as planned.
Help from Start to Finish – Call (720) 491-3117
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 rush.
As soon as you realize you should get help with handling a decedent’s estate or the probate process of their estate, you should reach out to our Colorado personal representative attorneys. We are here to completely remove any guesswork from the processes and instill you and your family with confidence.
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, which is called fulfilling a fiduciary duty. The personal representative may not favor one heir or beneficiary over another, and they must do their deliberate best to follow the instructions laid out before them to the letter.
The personal representative of an estate 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
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