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What Can You Do if the Personal Representative Doesn’t Do What They are Supposed to Do?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Probate, and the probate process can sometimes be complicated and difficult for individuals who don’t deal with it all the time. The good news is that our team of premier Idaho probate and estate planning attorneys have been assisting clients for more than 75 years in administering probate estates and proceedings.

Our team at the Racine law office is made up of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley. Our attorneys have each earned the highest rankings possible in probate and estate planning matters based upon their experience, knowledge, abilities and ethics from the several notable legal rating services including AVVO, Martindale & Hubbell and Justia. More importantly, our team of attorneys have the skill and experience to help you.

One of the ways that we help our clients is that we assist them when they are appointed to be a Personal Representative (PR), in carrying out all their duties and responsibilities. In addition to this, we often represent beneficiaries in probate proceedings when someone else is appointed as the PR to make sure that they do what they are supposed to do. In other words, we protect the interests of our client as a beneficiary in the estate.

If you have questions about probate, we encourage you to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation where we provide you with a written diagram of the probate process and we explain the steps necessary to complete probate. By doing this, you will have all the information you need to understand the basics of the probate and the probate process. Now, back to the question of what can you do if the personal representative doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do.

A Probate Cannot Be Completed Without a Personal Representative

First of all, a probate can’t even be started until a PR is appointed by a court. This is controlled by Idaho Code § 15-3-103 which says in summary that the appointment of a PR is evidenced by the issuance of letters by the court who has jurisdiction over the probate. These letters are a court document that identifies the decedent, the court, and who the PR is that has been appointed by the court.

Once this appointment has been made, the PR now becomes legally responsible for administering the estate based on either a written last will and testament or the intestacy statutes.

Statutory Duties of the Personal Representative

The statutory duties of a PR are fairly easy to determine based on the statutes themselves. The first duty is that a PR has to agree to consent to the jurisdiction of the Court who is administering the probate proceedings. This is specifically required under Idaho Code § 15-3-602.

Pursuant to Idaho Code § 15-3-703, a PR is identified to be a fiduciary of the estate and of the beneficiaries. Because of this they are required to observe the standards of care applicable to trustees based on the Idaho code. Essentially, what this means is that the PR is required to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of a written will or of the intestate statutes. The PR is required to do this as expeditiously and efficiently as can be done in conjunction with following all the statutory requirements. In other words, they are required to not delay in getting the probate completed.

A PR also has a duty to prepare an inventory of the property owned by the decedent at the time of their death listing it with reasonable detail and indicating as to each item it’s fair market value. This Personal Representatives inventory of the estate must be sent to beneficiaries and any other interested parties who requested. This must be done within 3 months after the appointment of the PR.

Furthermore, the PR is required to take possession and control of the decedent’s property so that it could be properly cared for and administered through the probate proceedings. Additionally, the PR is required to pay taxes on and take all steps that are necessary to manage, protect and preserve all of the property of the estate.

Rights of Beneficiaries if Personal Representative Does Something Wrong

Because a PR is a fiduciary, they owe a duty of heightened care to all the beneficiaries of the estate. This means that every action the PR takes must be for the benefit of those beneficiaries. Based on this, if a PR fails to act, or deliberately acts against the interest of a beneficiary, they could be held personally liable.

Specifically, Idaho Code § 15-3-712 states that a beneficiary or other interested person can seek to hold the PR individually liable for damages or losses that result from a breach of the fiduciary duty the PR is required to follow.

If you are a beneficiary of a probate estate and you believe that the person appointed as a PR isn’t doing what they are supposed to do, we encourage you to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation. We would be happy to discuss your circumstances and see if there is anything we can do to help protect you and your interest in the probate estate. We have helped numerous clients protect their beneficiary interest and we are confident that we can help you too!

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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