In the New York probate process, a personal representative is the person who is appointed to represent the estate of the Deceased. In other states, the personal representative is referred to as the executor or administrator of the Will.
The New York personal representative is usually appointed in the deceased’s will. This will usually be honored by the Surrogate Court if the person or entity who is named is legally qualified to serve as a personal representative for an estate in New York.
If the deceased died without a will, which is referred to as intestate probate administration, then the Surrogate Court will appoint a person close to the deceased to serve as the personal representative of an estate. Ideally, this will be the deceased’s spouse. If the deceased does not have a spouse, or if the spouse declines to act as the personal representative of the estate, then the personal representative will usually be the person who is selected by a majority in the interest of the heirs or an heir who is the nearest degree of relation to the deceased, depending on the discretion of the Court.
If the heirs of the estate cannot come to an agreement as to who should be the personal representative of the estate, then the Court will hold a hearing and the judge will appoint a personal representative at such hearing.
What are the Responsibilities of a Personal Representative?
Although it may be an honor to be named as the personal representative of an Estate, there is a great deal of responsibility that comes along with this position. First, the personal representative is responsible for filing a petition for administration, with the help of an estate attorney.
If the personal representative mismanages the decedent’s probate estate, the personal representative may be liable to the beneficiaries for any harm they may suffer. This is because the personal representative is taking on a fiduciary role and the fiduciary responsibility that goes along side that.
If you are the personal representative of an estate, you must understand the position you are taking on and ensure that you are equipped to perform the duties required by you in order to avoid possible litigation from the heirs of the estate, for which you could be held personally liable.
Am I Required to Hire an Attorney for Probate Proceedings as the Personal Representative?
According to the New York Probate Rules, there is no legal requirement to have an attorney for probate proceedings.
However, having an attorney facilitates the probates and reduces the risks of is mismanagement of the estate for which the personal representative can be held liable by the other beneficiaries.