When named as an estate executor, it is gratifying to know that the deceased considered you trustworthy and capable of carrying out his or her last wishes as instructed in the will.
However, the job is exacting. It may demand much of your time, depending on the complexity of the estate. To ensure you are successful as an executor, here are six mistakes to avoid:
1. Not understanding the scope
This may be your first time serving as executor, and you may not realize what you are in for. You must thoroughly understand the duties and responsibilities, especially with legal liability in mind. If you have any reservations about your ability to serve in this capacity, do not hesitate to decline the appointment.
2. Failing to follow court instructions
An executor must follow the rules and regulations set forth by the probate court. Make sure you adhere to requirements at each step in the probate process. Failing to do so could land you in legal hot water.
3. Failing to keep in contact with beneficiaries
Beneficiaries have a right to know about your progress in the administration of estate matters. Manage their expectations by keeping in touch with updates and informing them of any issues or delays you encounter.
4. Moving too quickly
Take your time. The administration of an estate may take several months, even a year or so. You do not want to invite the possibility of legal liability by trying to rush through the process.
5. Becoming disorganized
The best way to ensure that you have a handle on all tasks involved in estate administration is to stay organized. Make a to-do list, checking each job off as you complete it.
6. Not requesting help
An executor is not expected to know everything about the task at hand, which is why you should not hesitate to seek professional help. You may benefit from the assistance of an accountant and possibly a realtor or real estate appraiser. You also need the guidance of an attorney to ensure you do not make legal missteps as you proceed with the administration of the estate.