Sure, it’s an honor and a privilege to be named as an Executor of a loved one’s Last Will and Testament, but it can also be a big responsibility and a whole lot of work. Being an Executor, a Personal Representative or the Administrator of an estate requires organization, attention to detail and the ability to communicate effectively with a group of heirs or beneficiaries who may not necessarily get along with one another. If you’re in this situation and are feeling overwhelmed by it all, here are three basic tips to that should ease your mind.
Find and Experienced and Reputable Estate Attorney.
Remember, once you accept the responsibility of serving as the Executor, you are also accepting the legal responsibilities that come with the position. With those responsibilities comes the potential liability as well should something go wrong. Protect yourself, protect your family and protect the heirs and beneficiaries by making sure that you get qualified legal assistance from the start. Don’t wait until mistakes have been made and arguments have erupted. A good attorney can guide you through the probate estate administration process and provide you with peace of mind along the way.
Get Organized and Stay Organized.
The probate process is all about procedure and paperwork. Make a comprehensive list of all of the decedent’s assets. Gather the latest statements from bank, investment, IRA, insurance and other accounts. Locate the deed(s) to the home and any other real estate the individual may have owned. Likewise, you’re going to want to put together a list of all of the person’s outstanding debts and liabilities. Gather statements reflecting credit card balances, loans, mortgages, utilities and other potential outstanding liabilities. The more information you can locate and put together in the beginning, the smoother the administrative process is likely to go. An experienced estate attorney should be able to provide you with a comprehensive Executor’s worksheet that will help steer you in the right direction and help you put together all of the necessary information and paperwork.
Good Communication Goes Along Ways.
As an Executor, you will be acting as the go-between to a number of different parties: the probate court, creditors of the decedent, the IRS and other taxing bodies, and (perhaps most importantly) the heirs and other beneficiaries of the estate. Create and maintain a comprehensive list of everyone’s contact information including names, addresses, telephone numbers and emails addresses. Disgruntled heirs can create a lot of problems and, typically, their number one complaint is a lack of communication. You’ll be amazed at how much easier you administration will go if the heirs feel like they’re being kept up-to-date and properly advised as the probate process moves along. It’s also essential that you keep track of all of your communications in case disputes should arise.
If you have been appointed as an Executor, and are feeling overwhelmed, don't try to go it alone. Protect yourself and your family. Call us today at (412 381-7370 to schedule your free legal consultation or visit us online at www.americanwillsandestates.com