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Alabama Personal Representative Duties

The role of an Alabama personal representative (executor) is one of great responsibility.  You are responsible for handling the estate in the best interest of all concerned.  What this looks like depends on the circumstances.  What might be okay in one situation can get you into trouble in other circumstances.  To protect yourself, talk to the Alabama probate lawyer about any specific questions you have.

Although the probate court may limit the powers of the personal representative, the Mobile Alabama Probate Court has provided a helpful summary of the powers and duties of the personal representative:

You can do this without prior court authorization:

  • retain assets
  • receive assets
  • perform deceased contracts
  • satisfy written charitable pledges
  • deposit funds in financial institutions
  • abandon valueless personal property
  • allocate expenses to income
  • pay assessments
  • hold securities
  • insure assets
  • borrow to protect estate
  • settle with debtors
  • settle claims
  • pay taxes and expenses
  • sell or exercise stock options
  • enter leases up to one year
  • vote stocks
  • employ and pay lawyers and/or auditors
  • prosecute or defend claims
  • continue unincorporated business
  • incorporate the business
  • limit liability

You can do this only with prior court authorization:

  • abandon an estate asset
  • make repairs or demolish improvements
  • subdivide, dedicate land
  • leases greater that one year
  • enter mineral leases
  • sell real estate
Probate Note: For more information about the role of the personal representative in Alabama probate, see the Mobile County Probate Court’s Personal Representative Handbook.   As noted in the Handbook, the instructions provided should be reviewed by you with the Alabama probate lawyer to be sure you have a good understanding.  You should consult with the lawyer throughout the probate proceeding (including opening, administration, and closing the estate) regarding how these rules apply to your situation.

Each of these rights and responsibilities are subject to the overarching fiduciary obligations of the personal representative.  The personal representative’s reason for the action is often as important as the action itself.  For example, the decision to abandon valueless personal property can technically be made without court involvement. But if the decision is made with the intent to deprive one of the heirs of that asset, the personal representative will still be liable for breach of his or her fiduciary duty.  All decisions must be in the best interest of the parties involved.