Personal Representative

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Personal Representative

A person who manages the financial affairs of another person who is unable to do so.

A personal representative is one kind of fiduciary—an individual whom another has trusted to manage her property and money. When a person dies, a personal representative generally is required to settle the decedent's financial affairs. In some instances, a living person may need a personal representative; for example, a minor might need a personal representative to make legal decisions for her. Personal representatives can be appointed by a court, nominated by will, or selected by the person involved. Their duties are performed under the supervision of probate courts, which are governed by state law.

When someone dies leaving property, a personal representative is required to administer the decedent's estate, which involves resolving any debts and handling the distribution of property. The jurisdiction, powers, and functions connected with administering the decedent's estate are usually entrusted to special tribunals, known as probate, surrogate, or orphans' courts. These courts supervise the actions of the personal representative.

The choice of a personal representative depends on whether the decedent left a will, the legal document instructing how his estate is to be divided. If the will names a personal representative, that person is called an executor (male or female) or executrix (female). The court will accept the representative unless he does not meet statutory qualifications. These qualifications vary from state to state but largely concern such factors as age and conflict of interest. If there is no legally valid will, the decedent is said to have died intestate. In such cases, the court appoints a personal representative for the decedent's estate. The court-appointed representative is called an administrator (male or female) or administratrix (female).

In special instances, courts appoint one of three types of administrators. They are appointed when (1) an executor cannot or will not serve (administrator cum testamento annexo); (2) a prior executor or administrator has not completed the estate (administrator de bonis non); or (3) an interim administrator (special administrator), given restricted powers over the estate, is needed until a proper legal representative can be found.

Once approved by the court, personal representatives receive official sanction to fulfill their duties. Executors receive documents called letters testamentary—administrators receive letters of administration—authorizing the representative to handle the legal affairs of a decedent. Throughout the process of administering an estate, all personal representatives serve as officers of the court. They derive their authority from the court and thus serve at the court's pleasure. Their authority can be revoked on various grounds, ranging from neglect to incompetence. Primarily, they must act on behalf of all parties and all interests in the estate. They owe the beneficiaries an absolute duty of loyalty, or fiduciary duty, to administer the estate in their best interest.

In general, the personal representatives' duties are to settle and distribute the estate. This complicated task may require the assistance of an attorney or a trust company, so-called coexecutors. The personal representative's first task is to collect and preserve the assets of the estate. The personal representative also oversees the appraisal of the estate's assets, where necessary. The personal representative must also pay the estate's creditors, as well as any Estate and Gift Taxes due under federal law. Finally, the representative sees to the distribution of the remaining estate among the decedent's beneficiaries. If there are no beneficiaries, the state usually receives the property.

Further readings

Graves, Herman S. 2000. "Estate Administrative Expenses And the Personal Representative." Colorado Lawyer 29 (September).

Krier, Kenneth D. 1991."The Attorney as Personal Representative or Trustee." Florida Bar Journal 65 (Janurary).

Ross, Bruce S., and Henry T. Moore, Jr. 1986–1996. California Practice Guide: Probate. The Rutter Group.


Executors and Administrators.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
However, how does the Florida attorney advise the benevolent personal representative who has a deep personal desire to pay the decedent's pledge of questionable enforceability but for whom it is impracticable to determine a unified position in favor of payment of the pledge among the estate beneficiaries, or the benevolent personal representative who is otherwise uneasy about potential liability for payment of a pledge that is later determined to be legally unenforceable?
If you are the personal representative, take your first steps in a reasonable way, communicate early and often with beneficiaries, and include them in funeral planning.
The Service stated that fees paid to a nonprofessional executor or personal representative (except in certain circumstances) are not SE because the services are performed on an isolated basis and stem from a personal relationship with the decedent that is not based on particular expertise or special qualities.
The privacy rule allows a health care provider or health plan not to treat a parent as a minor's personal representative, given a reasonable belief that the parent has subjected or may subject the minor to domestic violence, abuse or neglect, or that treating the parent as the personal representative could endanger the minor.
Personal Representative field assistants Mihail Olaru and Martin Schuster carried out the monitoring exercise from the territory of Azerbaijan.
The Personal Representative prayed to Allah the Almighty to bless the BDF Chief with abundant health and happiness and Bahrain with further progress and prosperity, led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.
The meeting was attended by Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, the secretary general and two advisors in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan, Bassam al Khatib, Ambassador of Syria to Oman and the delegation accompanying the guest.
Two of the residual beneficiaries, Tom and Kim Hartshorne, were the personal representatives for the estate.
The message was conveyed by the Personal Representative of HH the Emir HH Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani during a meeting with Russian President's Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow on Saturday.
KUWAIT, Nov 21 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received on Tuesday at Bayan Palace Qatari Amir Personal Representative Sheikh Jassem Bin Hamad Al-Thani and Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Muscat, Oct 18 (ONA) Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq al-Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan received in his office today Dr.
[section]733.607 and [section]733.608 (2016) to hold that the personal representative is the proper party to retrieve assets or pursue claims that would benefit the estate.

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