If you’ve recently been named as the Executor or Administrator of a loved one’s estate and are about to enter into the probate estate administration process, make sure that you take make one or more of these common mistakes.
Waiting Too Long
Obviously, you don’t need to start the probate process within days of losing a loved one, but waiting too long to do so can get you in big trouble. Most states have very specific statutory time frames in which the estate administration process must be completed. This is particularly important when it comes to the payment of income, estate and inheritance taxes that may be owed by the estate. If you don’t get things done on time, you may subject yourself to personal liability for any additional taxes, penalties and costs which may be incurred as a result of your procrastination. It’s certainly okay to take some time to grieve, but make sure you get things started and under way in a timely manner.
Failing To Keep Accurate Records
As executor or administrator your number one job is to take control of and diligently account for all of the assets in the estate. Make sure you keep accurate records of everything you do so that when it comes time to pay taxes and make distribution to the heirs you’re not left scrambling to track down necessary information and records. The more detail oriented you are, the smoother the whole estate administration process will be.
Failing To Maintain The Real Estate
This is one of the most important responsibilities that you’ll have. Make sure that any real property the decedent owned is secured and appropriately maintained during the administrative process. You may want to change the locks on the property and make sure that the utilities stay on and that there is appropriate insurance coverage in place. As the executor or administrator you could be held personally liable should the property fall into disrepair or be damaged under your watch.
Failing To Communicate With The Beneficiaries
Nothing creates more problems than failing to keep the beneficiaries adequately advised, engaged and informed during the probate administrative process. If the beneficiaries start to become anxious and/or suspicious, these matter can quickly spin out of control and become highly litigious. Taking the time to keep the beneficiaries informed can save you a lot of time and grief and will go along ways toward making sure the whole administrative process goes smoothly.
Failing To Retain Competent Representation
Probate can be a complicated and draining process. Trying to do everything on your own is a sure fire way to get yourself in a lot of trouble. Hiring an experienced estate attorney will not only ensure that administrative process is completed in a timely and appropriate manner, but it will also protect you from making big mistakes that could cost you dearly. Keep in mind the old adage, penny-wise and pound-foolish. You may think you’re saving a few bucks by trying to do things on your own, but you may actually be missing out on a number of tax deductions and other savings that a good estate attorney would be aware of. Remember, you can save yourself a lot of time, trouble and grief by getting sound advice from the beginning.
American Wills & Estates is a locally founded, owned and operated law firm that has been guiding clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania through both the Estate Planning and Probate Estate Administration processes with competency, compassion and care for over 26 years. So, if your family has recently suffered the loss of a loved one and you are not sure where to turn for trusted, experience and affordable legal advice and assistance, give us a call today to schedule your free consultation or visit our law firm online. You’ll be glad you did!