An executor of a will is a very important role for any individual. Being named as an executor makes you responsible for settling a loved one’s estate while being impartial in all aspects of the court proceedings. In order to avoid some of the most common mistakes, here is what an executor needs to know.
The basic steps an executor of a will needs to take during probate
An executor of a will has many important duties, such as gathering and holding the assets of the estate, satisfying legitimate debts and ultimately distributing the remaining assets to the appropriate heirs and beneficiaries. Finally, the executor will be expected to provide the court with a final accounting at the close of the estate.
It is important to start the probate process promptly
There are a variety of reasons why you should commence the probate process as soon as possible. One reason to start immediately is that individuals who have an interest in the estate are typically very impatient. If you wait too long, heirs and beneficiaries might start harassing you. Similarly, the longer the probate process takes, the more insistent creditors are likely to become. On the other hand, if you wait too long to start the process you will be under more pressure to get everything accomplished.
Determine quickly whether you need to list any real estate on the market
If your priority is to settle the estate as quickly as possible, you need to consider whether you need to sell any real estate. If that is the case, then you need to put any real estate on the market as early as possible. In fact, as soon as you have been appointed as the executor, you need to list the house on the market and start soliciting offers.
Meeting court deadlines is crucial for the executor of a will
There are several different documents that an executor will be required to gather and submit to the court as part of the probate process. Along with those documents, there are also critical deadlines imposed by the court that must be timely met. Simply put, you cannot miss the court deadlines. You must first determine which deadlines apply and then put them on your calendar. If for any reason, you cannot meet a deadline, you must let the court know. If you have questions about deadlines, consult with a probate attorney.
An executor of a will is required to keep an accurate accounting
It is important to keep accurate records regarding everything that you do with regard to the estate assets. Probate is essentially a financial matter that requires a detailed accounting. The truth is, not everyone is good at handling finances, maintaining balance sheets, or being generally organized. If that is true for you, it would be a good idea to seek professional advice. While you may not need a Certified Accountant, depending on the nature of the estate assets a bookkeeper may be appropriate. Ultimately, when you get to the point of settling the estate, there may be objections from creditors, heirs or the court. That is especially true if something does not balance out.
It is wise to educate yourself about the process
Estate administration is a legal proceeding. So an executor of a will who is not an attorney or accountant needs to educate themselves regarding the elements of the probate process. Although the court will provide information to help guide you through the process, it is also wise to speak to a probate or estate lawyer in order to obtain specific advice regarding your specific situation. An experienced attorney can also make sure the executor of a will complies with all rules and deadlines imposed by the court.
Be careful following the advice of friends
Some clients do not go so far as to consult with a professional when they have questions about their duties as executors. But, you must be careful taking the advice of friends, particularly when they have no prior knowledge or expertise in the probate process. Despite the fact that your friends probably have the best intentions, without the right experience they could do more harm than good. If they are not truly equipped to help you with your probate issue, it is better to consult with appropriate professionals.
Attend a FREE seminar today! If you have questions regarding the purposes of an estate plan, or any other estate planning matters, contact the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C., for a consultation either online or by calling us at (914) 939-6565.