After a person has been established as a personal representative for an estate in California, there are three primary responsibilities this individual must keep in mind. These include:

  • Gathering all assets and filing an inventory and appraisal of the estate assets.
  • Paying any taxes, debts, and liabilities of the estate.
  • Distributing any remaining assets after the previous step to the persons entitled to receive them.

The personal representative needs to take possession of all of the decedent’s property that will be administered as part of the probate estate. Before any estate checking accounts can be created or existing accounts can be transferred for this purpose, the personal representative will need to contact the internal revenue service to get a tax identification number for themselves as a personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

Another important form that must be filed is the notice of fiduciary relationship, also known as IRS form 56.

After a tax identification number has been created, the cash accounts established in the decedent’s name can be closed and formally transferred to the estate account in the name of the personal representative. If closing any of these accounts could lead to early withdrawal penalties, the account registration could be updated to the name of the personal representative without formally closing the account.

Banks might also have their own specific requirements related to certain property and brokerage accounts and stock certificates should also be transferred in ownership from the decedent to the personal representative, so that any earnings and dividends can be appropriately reported on the estate’s behalf.

No later than four months after the appointment, the personal representative has to file with the court the inventory of all the property to be administered as part of the probate action.

Talk to your California lawyer about more estate planning issues.

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