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5 things personal representatives should know

Your loved one has chosen you to be the personal representative of their estate. It is an honor to be trusted with managing the assets they cherish the most – but it is also a big responsibility.

Acting as a personal representative can be a challenging job. So, here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Understand your duties

If possible, it will help to discuss your role with your loved one in advance. Having a direct conversation about their wishes can help ensure you are not surprised or overwhelmed when the time comes that you must actually carry out these duties.

Regardless of whether or not it is possible to discuss your role with your loved one, it is helpful to conduct research to make sure you understand the specific obligations included in the will and your duties under California law.

2. Be prepared to work

The duties of a personal representative are many, including but not limited to:

  • Completing paperwork
  • Informing companies and creditors of your loved one’s passing
  • Paying debts
  • Protecting the property

There is a lot to manage, and it can be time-consuming. Understanding your duties can help you prepare, but you must also prepare yourself for the workload it could involve.

3. Organization is key

With how much work personal representatives must complete and keep track of, it is critical to get organized. As AARP suggests, you should find an organizational system that works for you, whether that is spreadsheets or to-do lists.

4. Communicate

The aftermath of losing a loved one can often be stressful for everyone in your family. This stress can cause conflict to brew quickly between family members, heirs and beneficiaries.

That is why it is important to maintain a high level of communication throughout the process of administering the estate. Updating your family and keeping them informed can not only help ease the stress you all face but also reduce the risk of conflict.

5. Take care of yourself

As we mentioned above, this is not an easy time. You have a lot on your plate as a personal representative – on top of the grief you experience for your loved one. This combination can make it easy for individuals to face both emotional and physical burnout.

Make sure you have a support system of family and friends during this time to help you. Additionally, you should also make time to rest. The list of things to do might be long, but looking out for your well-being during this difficult time is critical.

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