The Do’s and Don’ts of being an Executor of an Estate

Being chosen as the executor of the estate of a deceased family member or a friend might be touching, but the role comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility.

Effectively, you are in charge of handling their personal, legal, and financial affairs, and if you are not organized, you could land it a lot of hot water.

This article highlights the key considerations that you need to undertake.

You need legal help

Many executors forgo a probate solicitor to save costs. Unless you are well versed in probate law, you will have a hard time getting the deceased’s affairs in order.

At the same time, you are personally liable for any mistakes that are made.

A solicitor will help you navigate these choppy waters.

Some people do not like the thought of hiring lawyers. This is due to the thinking that lawyer fees come straight out of the estate, thus milking any fortunes amassed dry. Fortunately, this is not necessarily the case.

Sometimes, a formal probate proceeding is not necessary, and even if it is the probate cost is small in proportion to the value of the estate.

The first steps that must be taken

List your responsibilities in order of their importance. For example, you should action the following with urgency:

  • Locate the will
  • Cancel all credit cards
  • Protect assets
  • Obtain a death certificate.

Once you have completed and finalized the above, you can submit them to the probate court for review. Consult with a lawyer during these steps to ensure that all the information provided is accurate.

Although this may be a difficult time for you, grieving the loss of a loved one, you mustn’t delay attending to these tasks because probate can be a drawn-out and confusing process

Making the smallest of mistakes could cost you

You might have unintentionally made the slightest error on some paperwork. Unfortunately, these mistakes, however small, could result in you having to pay outstanding payments because the estate has run out of money.

The importance of hiring a probate lawyer cannot be emphasized enough.

Remain impartial throughout the process

When it comes to issues about the will, you must remain impartial and ensure the deceased’s wishes are carried out.

Do not get involved with family politics. Even if you prefer some family members over others, never play favorites.

Debunking myths for a better understanding of the executor role

The probate process is known to take a while to complete, but unless it is a unique case, it will not drag on. The task, while complicated to administer for the executor of the estate, will not last years.

Typically, it takes up to a year, with most of that time waiting for creditors to file their claims. This waiting period is over, and the estate can close once all the necessary information is collated, such as assets, paid debts, and taxes.

Delays may occur if there are family feuds where loved ones challenge the will or cannot settle matters amongst themselves, which is when the issue is finalized in court.