If you are an executor of a deceased person's will, then you have serious responsibilities. What you do after your loved one's death has an effect on assets and claims on the estate. Therefore, you must proceed in a timely and careful manner during the probate process. However, many people make costly mistakes during this process. Here are some examples of common mistakes to help you avoid them.
Waiting Too Long
Chances are you have a lot of things going on with your own life in addition to being an executor. It may be tempting to put the estate on the back burner for a while. However, many things require a timely response after someone dies. If you wait too long, you could end up losing money and assets.
Not Hiring a Lawyer
Probate is a complicated process with many legal maneuvers, even if the estate is mostly uncontested. For more complicated estates, you may find yourself in front of a judge more often than you like. Hiring a lawyer who is a probate specialist can help you through the process.
Failing to List Assets
Your loved one's heirs and beneficiaries are probably itching to take or use certain items from the estate. Before that can happen, you must make a list and put each item into a category and assess their value. You also must secure the estate until assets can be distributed. If you wait too long, then your loved ones may take things on their own. You could find missing items listed in the will that the heirs took without consulting you.
Lack of Communication
You must notify and make contact with the deceased's known heirs and creditors promptly and give them updates. You won't be able to close probate until all people involved are notified and their claims cleared. Failing to keep people up-to-date could open you up for additional legal action.
Paying Out of Turn
Your loved one may spell out specific amounts of money to certain people. However, if the estate does not have enough money to cover all debts, you must prioritize payments. Certain creditors have priority by law over others. If you pay people too soon or out of order, then you could be legally liable.
Being an executor is a big responsibility. You and your loved one's beneficiaries are relying on you to handle the case well. Because probate involves navigating through the legal system, you can benefit greatly by hiring a lawyer. When you are ready, contact a probate lawyer for legal guidance.