Over the years, I have received many questions from clients and others regarding estates. A common question is, “What are the duties of the personal representative of an estate?”
Assuming you have been named as the personal representative in an informal administration, the Wisconsin Register in Probate Association has compiled a very useful manual called A Personal Representative’s Guide to Informal Estate Administration in Wisconsin. This guide can be found at http://www.wicourts.gov/services/public/selfhelp/docs/probateguide.pdf.
In summary, the personal representative’s main duties are to:
1) Identify and collect the decedent’s assets.
2) Manage those assets during the probate process.
3) Determine the surviving spouse’s rights under the state marital property law.
4) Pay debts, claims, taxes, and probate administrative expenses.
5) Make any distributions to the surviving spouse or dependent children required under state law.
6) Distribute the remaining assets to those named in the will (or if there is no will, to the heirs at law).
Generally, the personal representative has a right to receive compensation equal 2 percent of the inventory value of the estate assets (less any mortgages or liens).
The personal representative may wish to hire a probate attorney of his or her choice for professional legal advice related to the probate process. The Register in Probate’s office can answer basic questions about procedures and preparing forms. However, unlike an attorney, the Register in Probate cannot evaluate your case and provide legal advice.