In our last post, we discussed some of the mistakes to avoid when settling an estate through probate. Here are some others:
Handling creditors improperly
Every potential creditor of the estate must be notified about the estate going into probate. If the creditor is known, he or she can be notified personally. Unknown creditors, on the other hand, must also be notified. How? Through a notice published in a local newspaper. The probate must be kept open for a period of time mandated by state statute to allow creditors to file claims against the decedent’s estate.
Failing to communicate effectively with estate beneficiaries
Working closely with beneficiaries is not a legal requirement, but failing to keep them abreast of developments can be a big mistake. In fact, poor communication sometimes leads to unnecessary, and expensive, litigation. Remember: You are not the only one dealing with the loss of a loved one—so, too, are the decedent’s heirs. It is an emotional time for them, and they may feel slighted or ill-treated if you don’t stay in touch with them.
Distributing estate assets too soon
As the estate’s executor, you have the authority to distribute assets to beneficiaries as well as to approve and pay creditor claims. However, sometimes an estate lacks sufficient assets to honor bequests made in the will and pay every creditor claim. In such a situation, creditors must be prioritized according to the law and assets must be dispersed based on that prioritization. If you, as executor, do not follow the law, you could be held personally liable.
If you have been named as an executor/personal representative and would rather not accept the responsibility, we can handle the probate process for you from start to finish. This will allow you to focus on what is most important… coming to terms with your loss. Remember: You are not alone during this difficult time.