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Sudden Wealth Blog

Serving as Personal Representative for an Estate

Man at desk serving as personal representative for an estate.

Serving as a personal representative for an estate is an important and often complex job. This guide provides an overview of the various duties, responsibilities, and legal obligations that you must fulfill when acting as a personal representative for someone else’s estate.

What Are the Duties of a Personal Representative for an Estate?

When acting as a personal representative for an estate, it is important to understand the various duties and responsibilities of this role. Arizona requires personal reps to sign an Order to Personal Representative. That Order sets forth some of the most important obligations of serving as personal rep. Generally speaking, the personal representative must collect and value the assets of the deceased; pay or arrange for all of their debts, taxes, and expenses; distribute the estate according to their wishes or state law and then close out the estate.

Do Not Rely On Your Gut Instincts!

You may think you need to do one thing. But the law may require you to do something else. I remember back during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 when housing prices started to fall. There were some personal representatives who held onto property waiting for top dollar. Or they refused to sell the house. Meanwhile, property values declined and some of them ended up being personally responsible for the losses resulting from their inaction.

Another example is dealing with personal property. You might assume that the contents of your deceased loved one’s house are worthless. However, Arizona law requires that you distribute personal property “in kind.” That means that you don’t sell it at a garage sale. Rather, you allow the people entitled to inherit to receive a fair portion of the belongings, regardless of the value.

How Long Does Serving as a Personal Representative Last?

Serving as a personal representative is an important yet time-consuming task. Depending on the complexity of the estate, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to carry out all of the duties and responsibilities associated with this role. However, some personal representatives may require more or less time to complete their duties. It really depends on various factors such as the size and complexity of the estate, whether probate is required, how quickly assets can be liquidated and other legal considerations.

Who Should I Notify of My Appointment?

Once appointed as the personal representative of an estate, you’ll need to notify certain parties including all beneficiaries, creditors, and interested parties. Your state’s laws are very specific as to who you need to notify. If you aren’t sure, talk to a probate attorney. As personal representative, it will be your responsibility to distribute assets and settle debts in accordance with the decedent’s will or other applicable state law. As such, it is important to make sure everyone who may be impacted by the estate is aware of your appointment.

What Are The Key Steps In Being Personal Representative For An Estate?

As a personal representative of an estate, it is important to understand the basic steps in managing the estate. These generally include: understanding and fulfilling your role as personal representative; collecting assets and assessing their value; paying debts owed by the deceased; filing any required returns or reports; and distributing assets according to applicable law. It is also wise to enlist the help of a probate attorney for guidance throughout the process.

Want Help Serving As Personal Representative For An Estate?

You want to make sure you carry out your loved one’s wishes. You also don’t want to be caught up in a lawsuit because you did the wrong thing. That’s why it makes sense to get our help. We will guide you through the process so it is as quick and painless as possible. Don’t delay. Give us a call at 602-443-4888 so we can help you!


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.