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What are my duties as a personal representative of an estate?

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2023 | Probate

Being appointed a personal representative of someone’s estate in New York comes with many duties and responsibilities. If you have never served in this role before, you probably have many questions.

Having accurate information and a clear understanding of what being a personal representative involves is important, since missing a step or making a mistake can be costly. It can also extend the process.

Your role as a fiduciary

A personal representative is a person appointed to oversee a decedent’s estate. Your specific title depends on if the decedent died with or without a will.

If they died with a will, you are called an executor, while if they died without a will, you are called administrator. Whatever your title, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate.

Assets and debts

The first is identifying the decedent’s assets and debts. You must prepare an inventory of the assets, along with their value. After debts are identified, you must publish notice to the decedent’s creditors.

Your next step is to make sure the assets and debts are distributed accordingly. This means according to the decedent’s will, or, in cases where there is no will, according to New York probate laws.


In some cases, a final tax return for the decedent must be prepared and filed. It is your responsibility to do this and to make sure any outstanding tax obligations are paid.

Your final steps include preparing an accounting of any expenses associated with the estate and providing receipts to back up these expenses. You are also responsible for preparing and filing the appropriate documents to close the estate.

How long does this take?

You could be thinking that this sounds like a lot of steps and paperwork, and it does. Being a personal representative is often a time consuming job that takes quite a bit of time.

There is no set time limit on how long it takes to administer an estate. It depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Working with an estate planning attorney can make the process smoother and more efficient.