First Time Personal Representative Duties | Minnesota Probate

First Time Personal Representative - Minnesota ProbateIf you are a chosen personal representative or executor of someone’s estate, and you have never done this before, you are not alone.  Many people have questions about first time personal representative duties.

Most people are unsure of what to do when they find out they are the personal representative of an estate. Maybe one of their parents died or perhaps a loved one passed-away. Furthermore, let us be clear that Minnesota law uses the term “personal representative” when defining who is in charge of the estate. The term “executor” is not used.

First Time Personal Representative

Many of the people who contact the firm have questions about what their duties are and/or what they really need to do.

The first thing that the firm starts with is an intake questionnaire. Why do we do this? It is important that the personal representative take ample time to figure out what is really going on in the estate. What does this mean?

Basically, the personal representative must find out exactly what is going on, where the heirs live, what assets or property belongs to the estate, and what bills exist.  This may be more work than a person thinks.  Furthermore, personal identifying information of the deceased and the deceased’s loved ones; including social security numbers, addresses, and other verifying information is required. These are often easy items to get.

Once the initial intake information is gathered, the personal representative can begin working with a probate attorney to evaluate the deceased person’s Will and discuss options about how the estate should be administered.

We have written many posts on the differences between formal and informal estates and what needs to be included when starting a Minnesota probate.  Please click on those links for more information on those issues.

Next steps in administering a MN probate estate

The next steps for a new personal representative to administer an estate are to work with an attorney to draft all of the necessary court documents.  These documents should include:  a petition, notices for publication, certificate representation, oath and acceptance, letters testamentary, letters of general administration, formal orders, and other legal documents. These documents should only be be prepared by a probate attorney who has experience in this area of the law.

Once the personal representative and the attorney have signed and drafted all of the pleadings, the documents are filed with the court and hearing date will be set.  Notice of the hearing must be sent to all known creditors, heirs, and devisees of the estate.  Notice must also be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the deceased lived.  This is a very important function that cannot be ignored as failure to send notice can result in liability of the personal representative.

From there, the attorney and the personal representative need to discuss payment of bills and how, eventually, the assets of the estate will be distributed to the heirs of the estate.  This topic of conversation is a long one and must be written about in further articles. Stay tuned.

Free Initial Consultations

Questions about first time personal representative duties?  Contact the Flanders Law Firm today.  The firm offers free consultations to all potential clients and Dakota County probates.  Call (612) 424-0398.