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An estate must be opened if a person dies with property in their name alone (not joint), or owns an insurance policy or retirement benefits and has not named anyone as a beneficiary or has made the money payable to the estate. A personal representative is appointed by the Court to handle the administration of the decedent’s estate
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The filing fees are the following:
Estate under $21,000:
Estate over $21,000:
A personal representative may be formally appointed by a Probate Judge after a petition is filed in the Probate Court. The petition can be filed by an interested person to the decedent’s estate. When the petition is filed, unless waivers and consents from all interested persons are attached, a hearing will be held. The person who files the petition has the responsibility to properly notify the persons who have a right to know about the hearing. On the date of the hearing, the petitioner and anyone else who wants to take part goes before the Judge and explains the need for a personal representative.
A personal representative may be appointed informally by filing an application directed to the Probate Register. An applicant seeking appointment in an informal proceeding must give notice and a copy of the application to each person having a prior or equal right to appointment who has not waived the right. Such a waiver may be accomplished by filing a Waiver and Consent. A proof of service must also be filed with the Court.
The person appointed personal representative is required to file an Acceptance of Appointment and possibly a Bond to protect the estate’s assets. After filing the Acceptance of Appointment and Bond (if ordered), Letters of Authority will be issued to the personal representative. The Letters of Authority give the personal representative the right to perform the following duties, unless the Court restricts their authority.
If the personal representative does not timely perform their duties, any interested person or the Court itself may start proceedings to remove the personal representative or to force them to take action. The personal representative may be held liable for losses caused by his or her mistakes or for failing to act quickly and sensibly.
No. You can decline to serve as personal representative. If you decline, the Court will appoint someone else. Once you are appointed, you cannot resign without the Court’s permission.
Yes. The amount must be reasonable and is subject to review by the Court. The fees cannot be taken until the administration of the estate is completed.
Yes. You can use attorneys, accountants, investment advisors or other professionals to help assist in estate administration. The fees of these professionals are subject to review of the Court, and if reasonable, can be paid from the estate. Even if you hire experts, as personal representative, you are still responsible for the estate’s administration.
If you have questions, please seek legal advice from an attorney. By law, court employees are not permitted to give legal advice.