Know Michigan’s expectations for personal representatives – and consider getting the right help.
If a loved one has named you as the personal representative of their estate, they clearly trusted you on a personal and financial level. However, that doesn’t change the fact that estate administration is often highly complex.
Whether you are a first-time personal representative or you have been through the process before, you likely have questions. What are your responsibilities? And how are you supposed to fulfill them when you are still reeling from your loss?
Your basic responsibilities as a personal representative
First, know that you have no power to act on behalf of an estate until you have been appointed as a personal representative by the court – even if the decedent named you in his or her estate plan. Once you have been appointed, you are responsible for carefully managing the assets of an estate, according to the State Bar of Michigan. This may take many forms, including:
- Overseeing the estate’s investments and achieving a reasonable rate of return
- Resolving any debts or liabilities
- Filing a tax return on behalf of the decedent
- Reviewing and, if necessary, renewing insurance on the estate
- Operating any business owned by the decedent or following a succession
- Preparing annual accountings for distribution to beneficiaries
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries, typically after debts and tax issues have been resolved
You don’t have to do it alone
Unless you have extensive experience in finance, law or estate administration, you may not have the technical knowledge to oversee a complex estate on your own. That is common – most personal representatives rely on help from an attorney to ensure they are fulfilling their duties. Consider speaking with a lawyer if you have questions or concerns about your duties as a personal representative.
The Bingham Legal Group draws on decades of experience to guide survivors who have lost loved ones. In addition, we are proud to be members of the AARP Legal Services Program, allowing current AARP members to benefit from our experience at a discounted rate.