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Protecting Yourself As A Personal Representative


When a person dies with a Will in place, the person named in the Will as executor becomes the estate’s personal representative. If there is no Will, or if the person named in the Will as executor refuses to serve as personal representative, it is up to the court to appoint an administrator to serve as personal representative. Regardless of whether the decedent or the court chose you, you have a huge task ahead of you if you are the personal representative of a decedent’s estate. As the personal representative of a decedent’s estate, you have the responsibility to carry out the decedent’s affairs, which can involve numerous legal and financial matters.

As a personal representative, it is crucial that you take some necessary steps to protect yourself. The following are some of the steps you can take;

Follow the Decedent’s Written Instructions and Wishes

If you are the executor of a decedent’s Will, the most important thing you can do is to follow the decedent’s instructions and wishes. Indeed, some instructions and wishes might be confusing. Seek clarification from an attorney in such a case. If you do not have an attorney, you can seek clarification from another informed person.

Get Help

Indeed, it is not a requirement for a personal representative to hire an attorney to help them with the probate process in California. However, hiring an attorney is usually a good idea, especially if you have no legal experience. As a personal representative with no legal background, you will have concerns or questions about your responsibilities and the probate process. Even if you don’t want to hire an attorney, the least you can do is consult with an attorney for guidance. Reaching out to an attorney, even just for advice, can help you avoid making mistakes and carry out your responsibilities efficiently.

Document Everything You Do

For example, whenever you use your money to pay a bill related to the estate, keep a record of that transaction. This way, when you collect reimbursement from the estate, you will have something to defend yourself with in case someone makes a false accusation. Proper documentation can also help protect you against claims of negligence or inaction by beneficiaries/heirs. And if a claim arises, documentation can help you prove to the court that you did everything in the right way.

Understand What Your Priorities Are

Suppose you find yourself in a situation where the beneficiaries/heirs disagree with the decedent’s decisions. What do you do in such a case? As the personal representative of a decedent’s estate, you must always remember that you are obligated to act in good faith and prioritize the estate’s interests above others.

With the above-discussed measures, and many others not discussed in this article, you can feel confident you’re able to do your job as the personal representative responsibly.

Contact The Probate Guy

Administering a decedent’s estate can be complicated and frustrating. Fortunately, an attorney can take the stress away. For help administering a loved one’s estate in California, contact the experienced and dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – to schedule a telephonic consultation.


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