Personal Representatives - Probate
The Personal Representative (PR) initiates and manages the probate process of the estate. A PR may be the person designated in the Will, a surviving spouse or adult child of the decedent or other person the probate court appoints to handle the matter. As outlined in Probate Overview the PR is has obligations including but not limited to the following:
Locate and collect the assets of the estate;
Protect and preserve those assets;
Locate creditors and family of the decedent;
Pay creditors and taxes;
Distribute any remaining assets of the estate to the designated/entitled parties
Some states have specific rules about who may or may not serve as PR of a probate. Locating the rules can be found at most state probate court websites.
There is no obligation to serve as the PR even if the decedent made the designation in his/her Will. This position can be declined if someone is worried about their ability to serve or feel they are not a good choice.
Prior to death, an individual can designate more than one person to serve as the PR in his/her Will. That means that more than one PR can be appointed to handle the probate matter in most states. In such a case, the co-PRs work together to make decisions and take steps to complete the probate administration. Duties and obligations usually apply to both co-PRs.