The statutory duties of a Personal Representative (“PR”) appointed in the State of Utah are set forth in Utah Code Ann. § 75-3-701 et seq.  Generally, as PR your job is to identify, value, protect and conserve the property of the decedent.  You must see that the decedent’s bills and taxes (if any) are paid.  You must identify the beneficiaries who are to receive the property of the decedent and see that each receives that to which they are entitled.  Some of these duties are outlined more fully below.

At Farr Kaufman, our estate administration attorneys can assist you with fullfilling these duties to ensure you comply with the law.  Contact Farr Kaufman to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney to discuss your  estate administration needs.

Inventory List

One of your most important jobs is to prepare a list of the decedent’s assets.  Utah law provides that this inventory must be completed within three (3) months of the PR’s appointment (see UCA §75-3-705).  You should prepare an inventory of the personal property in the decedent’s house or apartment.  With regard to any safe deposit boxes, they should be opened and an inventory prepared.  As required by statute, you should send a copy of the inventory to any “interested person” who requests it.

Estate Checking and Brokerage Account

It may be necessary to establish an estate checking account to receive income and to pay expenses.  The expenses of administering the estate should, generally, be paid out of the estate checking account.  As with all other actions you take with regard to the estate, the checking account should be opened in your capacity as PR for the estate, not in your individual capacity.

It may also be necessary to establish an estate brokerage account to hold, manage, value, and liquidate any stock held in the decedent’s name upon his or her death.

Personal Representative Fees

As PR you are entitled to reasonable compensation for services you perform in behalf of the estate.  However, such fees are not required.  If paid to you, such fees are reportable as income to you in the year received.

Income Taxes

As PR you are responsible for filing the decedent’s final income tax returns (federal and state), the estate income tax return, and the estate and inheritance tax returns (if required).  It may be necessary to retain an accountant to assist the estate with the taxes.

Social Security

If you or the mortuary have not already done so, you should contact the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) (and Veteran’s Administration if applicable) to advise them of the decedent’s death.  The estate may be entitled to death benefits from these agencies.  Also, if the decedent was receiving Social Security benefits, arrangements must be made to terminate the checks and to, possibly, refund to the SSA payments made for the month of the decedent’s death.  Additional information regarding Social Security can be found at the following internet address: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10008.html.

Creditors

Claims for expenses and debts of the decedent should be identified and discharged.  A Notice to Creditors should be published, which will effectively bar creditors claims that have not been submitted to the estate after three months from the date of publication.

Non-Probate Assets

The property of the decedent may include non-probate assets such as jointly owned property, life insurance, pension and employee benefits and interests held in trust.  As PR you should identify each of these assets and take whatever appropriate steps that are necessary such as preparing appropriate claim forms in the case of life insurance.