The First Steps for a Newly-Appointed Personal Representative

millman law group personal representative

The first steps you take as a personal representative should include meeting with a lawyer.

If you have recently lost a loved one who has appointed you as the personal representative, or executor, of their estate, the responsibilities can feel overwhelming. This is especially true if you are a first-time personal representative who has not helped execute a will before. Fortunately, when you work with your estate planning attorney at The Millman Law Group, you have an experienced professional on your side to ensure you follow all the necessary steps. To start the process, take these first steps to ensure a smooth experience as a personal representative. 

Locate and Review Estate Planning Documents

Because several estate planning documents may interact, it’s essential to locate all of them as soon as possible. A few key documents to look for include: 

  • A will
  • Trust agreements
  • Life insurance policies 

An original copy of the will must be located to initiate the probate process and grant you the authority you need to act as a personal representative.

Identify and Secure Significant Assets

It is also your job to ensure that all assets are identified, located, and secured because you will be responsible for them during the probate process. You may have to take the following actions:

  • Close financial accounts
  • Take possession of vehicles
  • Lock up real estate and arrange for upkeep
  • Speak to employees at the deceased’s business, and arrange for continued operations 

Categorize Estate Assets

Some assets are deemed “non-probate” assets and can bypass probate. Determining which assets are probate and non-probate is key to determining your path forward. A few examples of non-probate assets include: 

  • Proceeds of a life insurance policy
  • Assets held in a trust
  • Accounts designated as POD or TOD
  • Certain retirement accounts
  • Certain kinds of jointly owned property 

Request Certified Copies of the Death Certificate 

There are several people to whom you may need to deliver a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. For instance, you will need a copy to submit to the court when you open probate and one for the funeral home. In other cases where you must show proof of death, you may also need to provide a certified copy. It’s best to have several on hand to start so you can move through processes faster. 

Work with an Experienced Attorney

The final step to ensure that you tackle all of your responsibilities as a personal representative is to work with an experienced attorney. At The Millman Law Group, we know how probate operates and what is needed for passing down assets. We can help you check off every box while acting in this demanding role.

Estate Planning Made Easy With Millman Law Group

Millman Law Group, PLLC is rare because it’s one of the only law firms that offer life planning in South Florida. From life care planning to the preparation of detailed estate plans, Millman Law Group has committed to serving Floridian elderly communities in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Ocean Ridge, Hillsboro Beach, and many other areas since 2018. Our dedicated team also specializes in special needs trusts and catering to any age demographic because we know for certain it’s never too early to start preparing you and your family for your future. For the latest news in estate planning and elder care law, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest. You can also contact us at 561-463-6480.