If you've been named Personal Representative of someone's estate (formerly called the Executor or Executrix), your duties will include:
* LOCATING AND SAFEGUARDING THE PROBATE ASSETS. These assets are property that have no other way of passing to a living individual. Life insurance and certain retirement accounts with beneficiary designations pass directly to beneficiaries by operation of law, so they would not be included in the probate estate.
* OBTAINING DATE OF DEATH VALUES FOR THE ESTATE'S ASSETS. This might include ordering appraisals of things like real estate and business interests.
* OBTAINING DATE OF DEATH VALUES FOR NONPROBATE ASSETS. If it appears that the estate will owe estate taxes, values for these assets must be set as well. As of 2019, only gross estates with values of more than $11.4 million are subject to federal estate taxes and only those with gross values of more than $2,193 million are subject to Washington State inheritance tax. The gross taxable estate is the total value of all the decedent owns, both probate assets and property that passes directly to a living beneficiary.
* IDENTIFYING CREDITORS AND PAYING DEBTS. This typically includes running a newspaper notice to alert all companies and individuals to whom the decedent might owe money that a probate is pending and they can then make claims to the estate for what they're owed. The Personal Representative should also send written notices directly to all creditors they can identify and locate.
* PREPARING AND FILING TAX RETURNS. This will include the decedent's final personal income tax returns for the last year of their life, if applicable. If the estate is significantly large, the PR will also prepare the estate tax returns.
* PAYING THE ONGOING EXPENSES OF ADMINISTERING THE ESTATE. The decedent's debts, taxes, and the operating expenses of the estate must be paid before probate closes. This might require that your personal representative sell or liquidate assets to raise the cash.
* DISTRIBUTE THE BALANCE OF THE ESTATE TO THE BENEFICIARIES. This typically requires preparing an inventory and an accounting and obtaining receipts to the be filed with the court.
As you can see, serving as a Personal Representative can be a big responsibility and is often a time-consuming burden. If you've been named as PR of someone's estate and have questions or need legal representation, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment today.