If you are the executor of a will, you will have to enter into a formal probate process. Probate is the legal process in which a will gets proved valid in court. Here are some common probate mistakes you must avoid.
Putting Probate Off
When you lose a loved one, it is understandable that you need time to grieve. However, that doesn’t mean you should put off the probate process for too long. If you wait too long to get started, estate taxes can add up and heirs will become impatient. Begin the probate process in a timely manner so that you avoid unnecessary problems later on.
Managing Assets Incorrectly
As the executor of an estate, it is your responsibility to maintain the decedent’s property. For example, you may need to close bank accounts, retirement accounts and other financial accounts. If the decedent owned real property, you’ll have to lock up the property and properly maintain it.
Not Hiring an Experienced Lawyer
The probate process can be quite complex, so it’s helpful to have a skilled probate lawyer on your side. He or she will help you file the paperwork accurately and in a timely manner. Your lawyer will also help you deal with estate taxes and show you how to manage the assets correctly. If you hire an experienced lawyer, you will be less likely to make costly errors.
Not Communicating with Beneficiaries
When you’re the executor of an estate, it’s your duty to maintain regular communication with the beneficiaries. Give them frequent updates about what’s going on with the estate. Otherwise, beneficiaries may become suspicious that you’re trying to hide something.
Distributing Assets Too Early
Beneficiaries may be anxious to get their inheritances soon. However, that doesn’t mean you should distribute the assets too soon. You must pay creditors before you distribute assets to beneficiaries. If you fail to do this, you could be held personally responsible.
Forgetting to Pick Up Mail from the Decedent’s Home
Have the post office forward all of the decedent’s mail to your mailbox as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss out on notices, such as claims from creditors. Allowing mail to pile up at the decedent’s home can also put the property at risk of theft.