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Costly Executor Mistakes Made in Probate

Losing a loved one is painful, and thinking clearly in the aftermath may feel impossible. But if you’re named the executor of their estate, you may have no choice but to keep a clear mind to honor their wishes. The executor of a will has a lot of challenging responsibilities ahead of them when carrying out someone’s last will and testament. Being faithful to the deceased’s wishes, distributing assets, and putting out fires when complications arise can be stressful. Luckily, understanding common executor mistakes can help you succeed.

Read on to learn the basics of these errors (and how to avoid them.)

Waiting Too Long

Taking time to grieve for your lost loved one is important. It’s understandable for you to put off your probate duties while in the throes of grief. However, when you don’t initiate the process for a long time, you make it more challenging and taxing on yourself in the long term.

Taxes accumulate. Creditors get more and more persistent. Benefactors get irritated as they wait for their due inheritance.

This will be extremely stressful and build up into an unmanageable problem. Start executing the will as quickly as possible. Don’t wait more than a week or two.

If you don’t feel like you can do it alone, enlist loved ones to help you avoid executor mistakes. Ask a probate lawyer for help. There’s assistance available if you just ask.

Making Executor Mistakes Because You Failed to Educate Yourself

You must learn the intricacies of estate planning when named an executor. Go online and read up on your responsibilities. Use legitimate legal websites like the ABA and reputable attorney firm web pages.

Understanding probate will help you feel more confident carrying out the will. It will also help you know your limitations so that you know when to enlist a lawyer for help. This will ensure that you meet your goals, remain secure in your role as the administrator, and make smart decisions for short and long-term will execution.

Not Maintaining Financial Records Appropriately

As an executor of a will, you’re going to be managing lots of financial accounts. This means that you need detailed and precise records of what’s in each account. Cash flow information is essential, and you may want to make visual representations of the information so that you can quickly interpret it.

Make sure that you:

  • Itemize receipts
  • Indicate market values correctly
  • Document gains and losses on investments
  • Maintain proper schedules of accounts and finances

If you don’t do this, you’ll extend the process of settling your estate because of simple executor mistakes. This means long-term stress and the inability to sell property quickly. Probate isn’t supposed to take years, contrary to popular belief, and quality documentation speeds up the process.

Executor Mistakes Caused by Understanding Real Estate Details

Part of executing a will is dealing with the deceased individual’s real estate assets. When you know your options for selling it, you can get a good return.

Look into selling it through traditional real estate companies, but don’t make that the end-all-be-all of your search. There may be investors who will pay cash for it without even asking you to fix it up.

It’s also important that you know when to market and sell real estate. If you delay selling it for too long, you’ll have a hard time settling the estate.

So, make sure that you get offers as soon as you can. A good probate realtor will guide you through the process so that you can do this quickly and effectively.

Communicating Poorly

Executors need to communicate with many different parties regarding estate claims. You need to keep an open flow of contact with your probate lawyer to make sure that everything is running smoothly. This will give you constant answers to questions about asset distribution and liquidation.

You also need to be open and honest with the beneficiaries listed in the will.

Heirs know when they’re entitled to both financial and non-financial assets. They’ll want to get them ASAP, and you also will likely agree on predetermined timelines with them for distributing assets. If these timelines aren’t respected, it could cause serious problems for beneficiaries who need the funds by a specific pre-set time.

Tell them about any possible disruptions. Keep them in the know about the status of their assets. This will at least ensure that they understand what’s happening.

Closing the Estate Incorrectly

Sometimes, executors finish distributing the assets and assume that their role is concluded. Unfortunately, while this does make logical sense, it isn’t the truth. You need to formally close the estate in order to conclude your role as the executor of a will.

This means obtaining approval from a judge by going to court. A probate lawyer can help you out if you choose this legal option.

However, you can also create a family settlement before distributing assets. This is a good choice if every member wants to bypass the probate process.

A family settlement provides estate administration records to ensure that everyone gets their due. The executor needs to document everything thoroughly so they’re off the hook for unexpected debts and unforeseen issues.

If you choose this option, you’ll be able to bypass some legal challenges. However, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney when preparing for the settlement. If you don’t, you could be held liable for issues in the documents and potential problems that arise with assets in the future.

Avoid Common Executor Mistakes With Legal Help

Now that you know some costly executor mistakes that people commonly make in probate, it’s time to ensure that you avoid expensive errors. An estate planning lawyer can help you appropriately distribute the estate of a deceased person after being named the executor of their will.

Our team is committed to educating you about asset distribution, helping get the paperwork in order, and filing estate claims in an accurate and timely manner. Schedule a consultation with Boyer Law Firm to undergo the probate process the right way.

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