Assigned Personal Representative on Grandmother's Will

My mother was assigned as personal Representative on my grandmother's will. I was assigned in the event my mother died before my grandmother. That happened.

The will has an article stating: "I order and direct my Personal Representative hereinafter named to pay my legal debts, funeral and testamentary expenses as soon after my decease as may be convenient. I also direct my Personal Representative to pay any and all inheritance taxes that may be assessed against my estate or against any beneficiary out of my residuary estate."

My grandmother lived off her social security check & small pension check. She had no savings and the only item of any potential value was a 1976 single wide mobile home (renting the property it sits on). I donated all the contents of the mobile home to the hospice that cared for her and only kept the family records and photos.

After donating all the contents of her home I abandoned it. The mobile home park sent several notices of eviction (to a dead person), but that has ceased. I am certain they have taken ownership of it and will tear it down. It was not in the best of condition to say the least.

She had some outstanding medical bills and utility bills only that I am aware of.

Am I responsible for paying any of her debts?

She received a letter from a bank addressed to her Estate Representative. It stated "they are working to make sure her accounts and assets are handled appropriately." It then asked the representative to contact them with the case number provided. I did so and they will not let me know if she had assets or a debt to resolve.

If it was a debt, am I responsible for it? If it is assets am I entitled to them?

I am afraid to show them the will for fear that it is a debt. I came across records that she filed bankruptcy in April of 1997 but cannot locate any document showing her debts were discharged.

Is there any way I can find out if the debts were discharged. And if so would that mean that the bank cannot seek resolution of any debt filed in the bankruptcy?

If they are any sort of assets (ie: safety deposit box or retirement account) I want to know if I am entitled to them since I am her only immediate living relative. The only other relatives she had are nieces and nephews and two great grandchildren. Her will also stated she intentionally omitted any other relative from any of her assets.

I look forward to any/all help you can provide. I cannot afford an attorney and live check to check myself. I have my own health issues that keep me from getting ahead financially as well.

Thank you. RLS

Comments for Assigned Personal Representative on Grandmother's Will

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Jul 04, 2012
Assigned Personal Representative on Grandmother's Will

You have legal responsibility for taking your grandmother's estate (everything she owned and owed at her death) through the probate process, which involves formally notifying all of her creditors of her death -- like the utility and medical providers she owed money to -- and inventorying all of her assets.

Once they are notified, the creditors can file claims to be paid out of those assets and you will be responsible for paying all valid claims. If there is not enough money to pay everything, then you will have to sell some of your grandmother's assets, assuming there are assets to sell. Also, you should return the mobile home to the bank that financed it. Your grandmother's estate will be responsible for paying the difference between what she owed on the mobile home and what the bank is able to sell it for.

Only after all of this has happened can you distribute your grandmother's remaining assets to whomever she wanted them to have them. Your grandmother should have identified those individuals or organizations in her will. You cannot decide for yourself who will get the assets. If her will does not do this, then you will be responsible for distributing her assets to her legal heirs -- the relatives her state says is legally entitled to them. Consult with the probate court about this.

As for any assets that may be in her safe deposit bank, if she had a retirement account or a life insurance policy, for example, she had to name a beneficiary for each of them as well as a substitute beneficiary. The person your grandmother named as beneficiary is entitled to the proceeds from those assets and if that person is deceased, then the proceeds must go to the alternate. If both the main beneficiary and alternate are deceased, you should contact a probate law attorney to find out what to do. I do not have that information.

Regarding your bankruptcy question, once a debt is dismissed in bankruptcy, it is no longer owed; the debt is wiped out

As you can see, there is a legally-proscribed process that you must follow in regards to your grandmother's estate. If you don't, you are breaking the law. One note: Given that your grandmother's estate sounds like it is small, it may qualify for a shorter, less expensive probate process, assuming her state has one. Many states do. Again, talk to the probate court about this.

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