Part of estate planning is choosing an executor for the estate. This person is responsible for distributing assets according to the decedent’s wishes, appearing before the court in all proceedings and paying off debts and fees. Often a family member or friend fills the role.
If a loved one has named you to be an executor, it is wise to become familiar now with your duties so you can avoid these common mistakes.
Not asking for help
In an effort to save money, you may decide to do it all yourself. But this approach can lead to mistakes that cost you money and time in the long run. Feeling overwhelmed is not good for your health either. Seek professional legal or accounting assistance to ensure you fulfill your duties in accordance with state law. The process can take a long time, so it is best to have help from the beginning.
Although you do not need any education, certification or experience to be eligible to be an executor, you do need to understand what the position entails. Most mistakes that executors make are due to not knowing how to carry out their numerous duties, shares The Wall Street Journal. Again, this is why asking for help is important. You can also research your duties on your own to give you a foundation.
If you decide the job is too much for you, you need to let your loved one know so he or she can appoint someone else. If you wait until his or her death, you will have to go through a legal process to get out of the appointment.
Another misunderstanding can occur in reading the will and other documents. Going through probate can settle disputes and confusion over the terms of estate plans.
Failing to communicate
The surest way to cause issues, especially with beneficiaries, is not to be transparent and communicative. Stay in frequent contact with the family and be honest about all your dealings with the estate. Doing so will also help you in case contests arise.