The term personal representative is synonymous with the legal terms “Executor” and “Administrator”. When a personal representative gets involved is when someone dies, and they either had a will or they did not have a will and we have to start administering their estate. An executor is a person named in a will and an administrator is someone who petitions the court to administer they estate when there is no will. They do the same duties, they just have different titles. The job of the personal representative initially whether it is an executor or an administrator, is to get the case filed in court and get it moving. They will file a petition to be appointed by the court, they will send notices to people that they are applying to be the personal representative and that the petition is to be placed on the hearing calendar for a judge to review and approve their petition.
Once that is completed and a person is appointed as executor or administrator, that personal representative will notice all the creditors that the person is deceased and tell them they need to file their claims if they want to get paid. The personal representative has to inventory and appraise all the assets, do an accounting of everything that is going on, make sure governmental authorities are properly noticed of the death. Then the personal representative will have to put the whole thing together in a big long accounting, and when the judge approves it, only then can the personal representative distribute the assets to the beneficiaries, which is really what they were meant to do in the first place.
Are Personal Representatives Compensated for their Work?
In California, compensation is set by statute; when it comes to compensation for either the executor or the administrator; for the first $100,000 in assets, the compensation will be $4,000 each for the personal representative and the attorney, for the next $100,000.00 it will be $3,000, and it is $2,000 for each subsequent $100,000 in assets. For example, for a $500,000 estate the commission for both the personal representative and attorney will be $13,000 each. As you can see, to be without a trust and stuck in the probate system costs a lot of money.
Can a Personal Representative Decide to Opt Out of their Duties?
An executor or administrator can resign by requesting that from the court and then the court will appoint a new executor or administrator, although I have not seen that happen, since the amount of money that person will make is enough to make them bite the bullet and get the job done. Would you turn down $13,000 for what really is not a horrible job to do? Most people won’t.
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