While the prospect of having to deal with the law in any capacity is an uncomfortable proposition for many people, it can become even more so when they learn that they must serve as the personal representative of an estate.
Here, this discomfort not only stems from a general unease with courtrooms and so-called legalese, but also from the reality that they likely don't know what exactly being a personal representative entails, and don't want to let down the friends and family members of the deceased.
In recognition of this reality, today's post will start to explore the duties of personal representatives here in Georgia. The hope is that by providing greater legal insight, a person will become more knowledgeable and more confident in their abilities to perform as a personal representative.
One of the primary duties of a personal representative is to identify, track down and secure possession of what are known as "probate assets," meaning those assets that are subject to the estate administration process.
In general, probate assets include most everything owned by the deceased from personal property and real property to motor vehicles and ownership interests in any partnerships or closely held businesses.
If you are curious as to whether there is such a thing as "non-probate assets," the answer is yes and, as you might surmise, they are simply those assets that are not subject to the estate administration process.
The list of non-probate assets is generally considerably shorter and consists of items like the following:
- Life insurance policies payable to named beneficiaries, not the estate of the deceased
- Retirement accounts, pension benefits and other forms of deferred compensation payable to named beneficiaries, not the estate of the deceased
- Jointly-held bank accounts and brokerage accounts passing automatically to the surviving co-owner
We will continue this discussion in our next post.
If you have been named personal representative of an estate, and have questions or concerns about your duties, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can guide you through the entire process.