If you have been selected as executor of a loved one’s estate, it is important to be knowledgeable about your duties and responsibilities. Your conduct could be questioned in a court of law.
What are the biggest mistakes executors make? How can you avoid making them?
- Hiring the wrong professional. Be sure to select the right professional for the job. Although many areas intersect within the realm of probate or estate matters, hiring a specialist can make sure the job is done correctly the first time.
- Ignoring heirs. It is incredibly important to document everything you do for the estate and to keep beneficiaries in the loop. If you do not, they could have legal grounds to remove you.
- Allowing emotion to cloud your judgement. Whether or not you were close with the estate owner, now is the time to set aside disagreements and conduct business in a professional manner. If you do not think you could perform your duties as well as a neutral third party, you may not be the right person for this job.
- Delaying unnecessarily. After one too many extensions, missed deadlines or forgetful mishaps, you might be removed as an executor. There is a sensitive timeline to carry out an estate plan and failing to meet deadlines or keep up with the schedule could have legal and financial consequences.
- Failing to consult with an attorney. Estate attorneys are specialists in their field. They can help you make sense of the paperwork and act effectively. Their fees are well worth the piece of mind.
- Handling financial matters yourself. Even if you have experience in selling property, you should not act alone. If you decide to sell some estate property yourself without consulting the beneficiaries, you could be legally at fault of mishandling the estate.
- Forgetting you can be held personally liable. Although you are handling someone else’s money, it is important to remember that you can be held personally responsible if things go wrong. A court could seize your personal property for mishandling the assets of another.
As an executor, you operate with great power to ensure a person’s last wishes come true. The best executors know when to hire the right people to help see those dreams become a reality.