Stress less, protect assets with expert estate administration

Administering an estate, especially a complex one, can be confusing and often overwhelming. Having an experienced Denver estate-planning attorney available to assist with the administration of the estate can reduce anxiety and help protect assets in the process.

Important considerations include who will act as your personal representative and questions around distribution of assets.

Choosing or acting as a representative carry key duties

Naming the person who will act as your personal representative or serving as a personal representative in an estate administration involve key responsibilities, and you should consider them carefully.

A personal representative has the duty of ensuring that the final wishes of the deceased are fulfilled during probate administration. The personal representative is also responsible for ensuring that the estate pays the final bills and taxes of the deceased.

The personal representative, usually the person named as such in a will, is appointed by the court when the will is submitted to probate.

David W. Osterman has over 30 years of experience assisting individuals in administering estates. Contact The Osterman Law Firm today for an initial consultation to see what your options are.

As a personal representative, what do you need to know?

  • Your basic duties

The personal representative has a duty to collect and inventory the assets of the estate, manage those assets during the probate process, pay the bills of the estate, distribute the assets of the estate to heirs and beneficiaries, and to finally close the estate once those tasks have been completed.  

A personal representative has the authority to search for important documents that will be needed during probate administration, such as safe deposit box agreements, trust agreements, pension and retirement statements, deeds to property, stock certificates, and unpaid bills.

  • Your first steps as a Personal Representative

Upon being appointed by the court, a personal representative will receive letters from the court indicating that he or she has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.

The personal representative should then prepare a Notice of Appointment form to send to any parties with an interest in the state, such as creditors and beneficiaries. This form must identify the personal representative and a contact address, the court in which probate administration is occurring, and state the rules of the probate administration. This notice must be sent out within 30 days of the appointment of the personal representative.

It is important to then set up an estate accounting system that keeps track of the cash and financial transactions of the estate for beneficiaries to review. This information is required for tax purposes and a formal closing of the estate.

Within three months of the appointment, the personal representative should prepare a written inventory of the estate’s assets. At the very least, this inventory must be given to all interested parties. If the estate is formally closed, it must be filed with the court.

  • What you need to know about distribution of assets

The Colorado Probate Code allows for a $24,000 “family allowance” to the spouse and surviving children of the deceased during probate administration. The Code also provides for a $26,000 allowance to the spouse of the deceased. This amount is generally exempt from claims by creditors.

Distribution of assets does not have to wait until the estate is closed. The personal representative can make full or partial distributions during probate administration, unless the estate is in formal probate and all transactions must first be approved by the court.

Family members appointed as personal representatives generally waive compensation for their work. However, personal representatives are entitled to reasonable compensation for acting on behalf of the estate, as well as expenses related to the estate administration.

When all of the assets of the state have been distributed, the personal representative may close the estate either informally or formally. In an informal closing, the personal representative files a statement with the court stating that the estate has been fully administered. 

Beneficiaries and creditors can challenge the personal representative’s decisions for one year following an informal closing. A formal closing requires final approval of asset distribution by the court, but the personal representative is immediately discharged of any liability. 

As you face complex issues in the administering of an estate, David W. Osterman has the expertise to guide you. Contact The Osterman Law Firm today for an initial consultation.