In Ohio, personal representatives are charged with the complex and sensitive duty of managing a deceased person's estate. Among the many tasks associated with this duty are gathering the decedent's assets, paying debts, paying taxes and distributing assets in accordance with a will.
A personal representative should not be in a rush to pay bills on behalf of the estate. It may be tempting to do so, but the personal representative needs both to verify the debt and get an accurate accounting of what sorts of debts the deceased had, as sometimes some debts get higher priority treatment than others.
A successful probate requires a thorough inventory of estate assets. Some assets that often go overlooked include income tax refunds, bill overpayments, prepaid deposits and collections. Out-of-state and foreign real estate also poses difficulties.
A personal representative should be very careful about investing estate assets. Imprudent investing could lead to disputes with estate beneficiaries, including claims of self dealing and breach of fiduciary duty.
It is often possible to avoid such disputes by taking the necessary legal precautions. An experienced probate attorney can serve as a valuable ally to personal representatives, helping them understand their duties and avoid costly estate litigation.