It is easy to become overwhelmed by the probate administration process after being appointed executor. Going through the experience of losing a loved one is difficult enough, but probating a will adds even more stress. When under this much pressure, it’s easy to make the following mistakes.
- Rushing the distribution process
Being an executor means having to deal with beneficiaries, including the deceased’s family members and friends. Keeping them happy is one thing, but your fiduciary duty is to protect the estate’s assets first.
According to probate laws, debts must be paid before any heirs receive their inheritance. If complications arise due to the mishandling of funds, the executor may have to shoulder those fees.
To avoid this, you will want to get a handle on the estate to see what debts and taxes are owed. You will also need to notify creditors and make sure they are paid in the correct order before distributing assets to yourself, friends, and family.
- Failing to do an asset inventory
In most cases, the deceased’s assets will already be compiled in one comprehensive inventory of assets. However, as it is the executor’s duty to protect those assets, you should still verify what the deceased owned at the time of their passing.
It is understandable to want to take a moment to breathe during a hard time. However, Texas laws state that executors only have four years to file the will and start probate. Failing to do so can deem the will nonexistent. The deceased’s property will then be subject to intestate succession.
- Not communicating and locating beneficiaries
Make sure to notify and update the beneficiaries about the probate administration procedure for your own peace of mind. When everyone has heightened emotions, it is easy to become anxious and suspicious, which could cause issues for you in the future. But, by being proactive and keeping everyone updated, you can prevent most problems before they arise.
- Failing to keep accounting records
It will become increasingly challenging to keep track of receipts and payments as you start paying various taxes, issuing inheritances to heirs, and paying creditors. To ensure that your figures are accurate when you settle the estate, avoid grouping similar entries and itemize everything.
While you can probate a will independently, the long list of tasks can cause you to make common mistakes. However, a probate attorney could guide you through the process and act as a mediator between you, the beneficiaries, and the creditors.