A Personal Representative (PR) is responsible for the administration of an estate in Wisconsin. In other states, a Personal Representative may be called an Executor. The Personal Representative’s signature carries the same weight of the person whose estate is being administered. He or she must pay the deceased’s debts and then distribute the remaining assets of the estate. If any of the assets of the estate earn money, an executor must manage those assets responsibly. The process of doing so can be intimidating for an individual who has never done so before.
After a person passes away, the Personal Representative must locate the will and file it with the local probate office. Copies of the death certificate should be obtained and sent to banks, creditors, and relevant government agencies like social security. He or she should set up a new bank account in the name of the estate. All income received for the deceased, such as remaining paychecks, rents from investment properties, and the collection of outstanding loans receivable, should go into this separate bank account. Bills that need to be paid, like mortgage payments or tax bills, can be paid from this account. Assets should be maintained for the benefit of the estate’s heirs. A Personal Representative is under no obligation to contribute to an estate’s assets to pay the estate’s expenses.
An inventory of assets should be compiled and maintained by the Personal Representative at all times. An accounting of the estate’s assets, debts, income, and expenses should also be available upon request. If probate is not necessary to distribute the assets of an estate, the Personal Representative can elect not to enter probate. Assets may need to be sold in order to be distributed to the heirs. Only the Personal Representative can transfer title on behalf of an estate. After debts are paid and assets are distributed, an Personal Representative must dispose of any property remaining. He or she may be required to hire an attorney and appear in court on behalf of the estate if the will is challenged. For all of this trouble, an Personal Representative is permitted to take a fee from the estate’s assets. However, because the Personal Representative of an estate is usually a close family member, it is not uncommon for the Personal Representative to waive this fee. If any of these responsibilities are overwhelming for an Personal Representative, he or she may elect not to accept the position, or, if he or she has already accepted, may resign at any time.