The Role of a Personal Representative Under a Last Will and Testament

Whenever somebody creates a last will and testament, they designate a personal representative (also called an executor). What are the duties of a personal representative, and what should you expect if a family member or loved one appoints you as personal representative under their last will and testament? Answering these common questions is the subject of today’s post.

Initially, there are no responsibilities upon being named personal representative under a family member or loved one’s last will and testament. That’s because a last will and testament does not take effect until after the death of the testator (i.e. the person who made the last will and testament). After the testator has passed away, the personal representative’s work begins.

First, the personal representative should locate the original last will and testament. While some probate courts accept a copy of the last will and testament, most require the original. Next, the personal representative should contact a probate attorney. Oklahoma law allows personal representatives to represent themselves in probate. That said, probate procedures are complicated, and any mistakes by the personal representative could lead to costly and time-consuming litigation. Once the probate case is filed in court, the personal representative must give notice to creditors as well as to parties interested in the deceased’s estate. In addition, the personal representative needs to ensure that all necessary tax returns have been filed.  Lastly, the personal representative is responsible for distributing the deceased’s property and assets to the heirs and beneficiaries as ordered by the court.

Serving as a personal representative is no easy task. However, you can lessen the burden by coordinating with the testator during their lifetime and hiring a competent probate attorney before filing for probate.

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