In a previous blog post we discussed the duties of a personal representative. As discussed, in general a personal representative winds up a person's affairs after that person dies. Yet in a broader sense, a personal representative has a fiduciary responsibility. What does that mean?
According to Maryland law, a fiduciary has the obligation to settle the decedent's estate according to the decedent's will expeditiously. The fiduciary must do so without lowering the value of the estate as much as is possible under the circumstances, keeping in mind the interests of all creditors and interested persons.
This is not a job to be taken lightly. When a person writes a will, they do so with clear intentions as to how they want their estate to pass down after their death. Although the probate process can be tricky to navigate, that is exactly the personal representative's job. When a person creates a will, they should make sure to communicate with the individual they would like to serve as a personal representative, so that person has an understanding of what their fiduciary duty will be, and is given the opportunity to decline if they feel they are not up to the task.
Fortunately, fiduciaries do not need to face the probate process alone. The services of an attorney can be invaluable in these situations. Estate law attorneys have experience dealing with the probate process in a way that benefits the interests of all. Fiduciaries may want to consider contacting an attorney if they have any questions about their roles and duties.