Free Confidential Consultation. Call Now! 410-299-4959

What is the Role of a Personal Representative?

A Personal Representative (aka executor) is a person appointed in an estate plan, or, when there is no will, appointed as a matter of law or by the court. This role involves ensuring that the decedent’s wishes are fulfilled when distributing assets, as well as managing the decedent’s affairs, including paying taxes and other bills.


A Personal Representative’s duties include, but are not limited to:


Locating important documents. An estate attorney can provide a more comprehensive checklist, but you will need to locate funeral directives, any wills or trusts, financial accounts, insurance policies, and unpaid bills.


Opening the estate. The Personal Representative must file the Petition for Probate to open the estate. This will require the original death certificate and, depending on the nature of the estate, other supporting documents. Once the estate is open, the Personal Representative will be provided with the necessary Letters of Administration which give authorization to act on behalf of the estate. The Letters of Administration are also required in order to obtain information related to the decedent’s assets.


Opening an estate bank account. The Personal Representative will need to obtain a Federal Tax ID Number for the estate, which can be used to open a new bank account in the estate’s name. Once this account has been opened, the Personal Representative should consider transferring some funds from the decedent’s financial accounts, depending on the nature of the accounts and who will inherit those funds, into the estate account.


Providing notice to creditors. The Personal Representative must also provide legal notice to all known creditors. In the state of Maryland, most creditors have six months in which to file claims. After six months, the Personal Representative may be required to pay all legitimate claims against the estate.


Preparing a thorough inventory. This inventory should include any of the decedent’s valuable property, including real property, business interests, and financial accounts. In some instances, the Personal Representative may be required to have the assets professionally appraised. The Personal Representative is also required to file an Inventory Report as well as an Information Report. These reports list the decedent’s assets and provide the value of the assets at the date of death.


Managing the estate during the process. The estate process can take several months or longer. You will need to manage the estate throughout this process by paying taxes and bills and attending to other estate matters.


Distributing assets. The Personal Representative’s last duty is to distribute all assets in accordance with the will or Maryland’s probate laws. Once assets have been distributed, the estate is officially closed. 


The responsibilities of a Personal Representative are significant. If you are appointed the Personal Representative of an estate, you should consider contacting an experienced estate attorney for guidance and support. An estate attorney can help you better understand your role, limit your legal liability as a Personal Representative, and provide advice on how best to protect assets from unnecessary court costs or taxes.


For a free, confidential conversation to discuss estate administration, or the role of a Personal Representative, contact Maryland estate attorney Stephen J. Reichert at 410-299-4959 or


MarylandAttorney #MarylandLawyer #MDAttorney #MDLawyer #MarylandEstates #marylandpersonalrepresentative #mdestateplanning #mdattorney #stephenjreichert #reichertlegal #estatelaw #personalrepresentative #MDestateplanning #MDestatelaw #MDestate #MDPersonalRepresentative #MDWill #MarylandWills # #MDlaw #MarylandLaw