Estate come in all shapes and sizes. Some people leave behind property worth millions while other estates may contain only property with high sentimental value. Either way, personal representatives have a big job when it comes handling estate assets during probate. Managing special assets can be a real headache.
Duties and Responsibilities
The personal representative of an estate is charged with the following tasks:
- Identifying and gathering all of the deceased person’s assets.
- Managing and maintaining estate assets.
- Observing a standard of care as to those assets.
- Settling and distributing estate property according to the terms of the Will or state intestacy laws.
- Closing the estate.
At all times, the personal representatives are expected to act in the best interests of the estate. In doing so, though, a personal representative may find that some estate assets require more attention than others.
Some assets lose value due to depreciation or because they are not in use. It’s the personal representative’s responsibility to address problems with wasting assets.
- Business Interests. A business generally has to remain in operation to retain its value. Personal representatives may oversee a company until probate is over.
- Real Property. Commercial and residential property can be costly to maintain, especially if the property is vacant. Personal representatives may turn such property into income producers. Selling it to avoid the expenses of maintenance and insurance or to prevent damages also may be a viable option.
- Investments. In a lengthy probate, investment strategies may change to meet market conditions. Failing to properly manage investments could lead to dramatic decrease in value.
- Vehicles. Depreciation is an issue with vehicles, including cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, aircraft, and boats. Maintenance, registration, and insurance expenses may mount during a lengthy probate proceeding.
Without the right care – as provided by the personal representative – some assets literally may perish. This includes:
- Wine Collections. Climate-controlled rooms may be required to prevent spoilage.
- Art Collections. This is another type of asset that may require a special environment.
- Animals. Horses, show dogs, and livestock need to be fed and cared for during probate, of course. Other costs may include insurance, housing, training, and travel.
Sometimes the cost of managing an asset may be harmful to the estate itself. In that case, assets may be sold or otherwise disposed of to protect the overall estate. However, assets like the ones mentioned above may be difficult to appraise and sell.
Avoiding Probate Is Best.
Transferring valuable assets to a trust may be a great way to handle property without passing it through probate. Even then, however, a trustee will be managing the assets with the best interests of the beneficiaries in mind.
The attorneys at Virtus Law are experienced at estate planning, establishing trusts, and handling probate. To set up an appointment, call us at 612.888.1000. Our main office is in Minneapolis, with other offices located in Maplewood, Cambridge, Edina, Mendota Heights, and Red Wing.