If chosen to act as a personal representative or executor for someone who passed away, you must appear before the probate court. Before you can begin administering a decedent’s estate, you must receive approval from a local North Dakota probate court judge confirming that you are legally competent to administer a decedent’s estate.
Under North Dakota law, personal representatives are entitled to receive reasonable compensation for their probate services. Furthermore, personal representatives can hire attorneys to help them understand their probate responsibilities and receive reimbursement from the estate to pay their attorneys’ fees. What is “reasonable” depends on the size of the estate, the personal representative’s time and extent of his duties. A probate court will make the final fee determination for the representative and his attorney. Typically, courts set fees hourly in the absence of any other compensation agreement, but representatives can request flat fees. If you are an appointed personal representative, you are also entitled to payment for any other professionals you hire to help you carry out your duties, including an appraiser, an accountant and estate auctioneers.
Another important responsibility for personal representatives is following any other probate procedures provided in supplemental letters of last instructions. Although North Dakota law does not require a decedent to draft a letter of last instructions, it is optional. If a decedent left you a letter of last instructions, you may be able to use the instructions to glean important contact information. Decedents commonly leave these letters to their personal representatives and instruct them to read them after they die. They may include important business information and location of bank accounts or any other information that may help you carry out your legal responsibilities as a personal representative.