Personal Representative vs. Executor

What is a Personal Representative for an Estate?

After someone passes away, their affairs need to be settled, whether big or small. The individual charged with handling the estate of the deceased person is called a Personal Representative.  (You may also have heard this responsibility previously referred to as “Executor.” While the name has changed, the job itself has not.)

The Personal Representative is

responsible for four main jobs:

Finding the assets the person who passed owned

Figuring out their worth

Paying any creditors that may exist

Distributing the remaining assets

If a person passed away with a will, the person named as Personal Representative will be the Personal Representative. However, if someone passes away without a will, the court will appoint a Personal Representative–usually their next of kin (a surviving spouse or adult child)–to perform the same functions.

If you have been named a Personal Representative after a loved one has passed away, the task of settling the estate through the courts can feel like a daunting process.

How do I get appointed as Personal Representative?

If no Personal Representative is named in a will, Colorado has a statute on the priorities of who may serve in this role.. Top priority is given to a surviving spouse and after that to an adult child to be Personal Representative. Even if there was an unspoken arrangement in the family before the passing, without an official will, the court will not honor that arrangement and will instead follow Colorado law to appoint the Personal Representative.

How can I best fulfill my role as Personal Representative?

While you can legally navigate the probate process on your own, it will take significant time and effort. Probate lasts a minimum of six months, with multiple court dates, documents to file, and decisions to make. Working with a probate attorney to guide the process can help you best meet the requirements of your role while also giving you the time and space you need to properly mourn your loss.

Can I decline my appointment as a Personal Representative?

If you feel unable or unwilling to be the Personal Representative, you may decline the role. The court will typically appoint the next successor in the will.

Can I be appointed as Personal Representative even if I live out of state?

Yes. You can be a Personal Representative of an estate in Colorado even if you do not live in Colorado. There is an additional document to sign in if you are going to be the Personal Representative and live in another state than where the Probate will take place, but otherwise, it operates much the same as if you lived in state.

Who can help me in my role as Personal Representative?

Fulfilling the responsibility of Personal Representative can feel like a full-time job. If the will is contested or there is conflict within the family, you might feel like you’re drowning. Hiring a probate attorney can ease the probate process, and help you navigate the court timelines and paperwork.

How can I navigate conflict between family members during Probate?

Unfortunately, if there are already difficult relationships with heirs listed in the will, probate does not make it easier. It is likely relationships will be permanently damaged without the help. As neutral third parties, attorneys can help mediate tricky situations and create solutions that help keep relationships intact and help the probates progress as quickly as possible.

Don’t go at it alone

Our attorneys understand this is a difficult time for you and your family. Probate is a long and difficult process, and you deserve support.

As experienced probate attorneys, our team can ease the confusion and burden of probate. We’ll help you know what to expect throughout the probate so you can meet timelines and finalize all the necessary steps to resolve the probate as quickly as possible while maintaining your family relationships.

Contact us today at 719-259-4971 to get the support you need.

Young boy smiling and holding his mother's leg