When a person in Colorado dies, any assets that are not placed in a trust, do not have a designated beneficiary and are owned solely by the deceased must go through the probate process. When this happens, a personal representative will be assigned by the court. This person's role as a fiduciary is to wind down the deceased's affairs and distribute the assets of the estate to the deceased's heirs.
The personal representative is responsible for posting notice through the U.S. postal system or in an area newspaper of the deceased's passing, so that creditors are aware of the death. Any legitimate claims from creditors can then be made. The estate must be inventoried, valued, consolidated and liquidated, if necessary. Once the creditor claim period has ended, the personal representative can issue payments to creditors. Filing the necessary tax returns and paying the applicable taxes and fees are also duties of the personal representative. The remaining assets of the estate can then be distributed to the deceased's heirs.
As fiduciaries, personal representatives must be impartial. They must act with care and prudence. They must prioritize the interests of the estate above their own personal interests. Finally, they must be loyal and provide all parties with equal treatment.
As this shows, serving as a personal representative is an honor, but it also comes with major responsibilities. Many people are not necessarily familiar with the probate process. Thus, if they are selected by the court to serve as the personal representative of an estate, they may choose to seek legal assistance in doing so, so that all the proper procedures are followed, and they do not do anything that violates their fiduciary duty.