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What Happens When The Personal Representative Dies?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2011 | Firm News |

The Importance Of The Personal Representative

The Personal Representative (also known as the Executor) is responsible for many of the activities in the Minnesota probate process, including collecting the assets, organizing the estate, distributing assets, and communicating with the probate court. While the family and friends are dealing with the loss of a loved one, this person is managing the decedent’s estate. What happens, then, when the Personal Representative dies?

The Death Of The Personal Representative

The death of the personal representative happens more often than many people realize. I have had that happen several times in recent years with some of the probate cases I have handled with my own clients. While each time has been a different situation, there are established ways of taking care of the matter.

Under Minnesota Law, the original probate process must still be completed according to the Probate Code. This means that a substitute Personal Representative must now be selected, to take the place of the one who passed away. There are several ways to go about selection of a new Personal Representative, but it must be done with the approval of the probate court.

Steps To Take When It Happens

First of all, it is helpful to review the Will if there is one. Often the deceased person will name alternative choices to serve as executor in case the first choice is unable to serve. As a side note, naming alternatives is a sound practice in estate planning.

If there is no Will or if it does not nominate a new personal representative, then it is a good idea to ask the heirs or the beneficiaries who they would like to see as the new personal representative. They may not all agree but this can help to avoid needless (and expensive) conflicts in probate. A discussion among the beneficiaries tends to be a good idea, so that everyone involved is aware of the change that needs to be made.

Of course, it is a good idea to nominate a individual who is knowledgeable in financial matters and who is acquainted with the family, and financial affairs of the deceased person.

Selecting A New Personal Representative

It is also important to be sure that any candidate to become personal representative does not have skeletons in their closet, such as personal financial problems, or criminal convictions, or personality conflicts with the other heirs.

If no executor has yet been appointed by the probate court, the petition to the court and the supporting documents can be redrafted to nominate the new candidate.

If the probate proceeding has already begun, then it will be necessary to file a Petition to name a Successor Personal Representative.

If the probate court had required that the deceased executor post a bond in the probate, it may be necessary to discharge that bond and get a new one for the successor personal representative.

When a personal representative has died in addition to the Loved One, this can create an enormous emotional crisis for the family. At this time, more than ever, it is important that an experienced probate lawyer is there to sensitively guide the family through this doubly difficult time.

The contents of this video are for information only and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not, without our express written consent, be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.