During the estate planning process, an individual names a personal representative to manage his or her affairs after death. This representative must act as a fiduciary when managing the estate, putting its best interests before his or her potential financial gain.
Learn about the fiduciary role and steps to take when a personal representative does not live up to these responsibilities.
Fiduciary as personal representative
The personal representative agrees to act in the interest of the estate when fulfilling these duties and obligations:
- Giving notice of probate to beneficiaries, creditors and other potential interests
- Paying estate taxes and debts
- Gathering, valuing and reporting inventory of assets
- Keeping assets safe pending distribution to heirs
- Distributing estate assets to benefactors as specified in the deceased person’s will
He or she must also file all legal paperwork for the estate with the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Violation of fiduciary duties
Sometimes, heirs of the estate or other interested parties object to the personal representative’s actions. The representative may violate his or her fiduciary duties by neglecting to pay estate taxes or debts, notify heirs to the estate of their inheritance, accurately and completely account for the estate assets, or protect estate assets.
The deceased person’s family members or other benefactors may have a valid legal claim if the fiduciary fails to treat the estate property with the expected prudence and care. Contesting the actions of the executor will result in a delay in probate proceedings as the state investigates the claims and determines whether they have legal merit.