Many people have heard about probate but do not fully understand the concept in its entirety. Probate is a legal process by which the court validates a will, estate debts and taxes are paid, before the remaining assets get distributed to the beneficiaries of the decedent. Unfortunately, the probate process is never as easy as it sounds and for that reason, executors often make key mistakes during the probate process. Depending on the size of the estate, the complexity of the ownership of estate assets, the number of beneficiaries or size of family and how these parties get along, probate can get pretty complicated, tiring and traumatic. This is even heightened by the fact that the family is in a state of mourning just after losing a loved one. For this reason, executors who are closely related to the deceased are likely to make one or more of the following 4 key mistakes executors often make during the probate process:
Delay in identifying and evaluating all estate assets
As an estate executor, it is good and would serve your best interests if you identify and evaluate the estate early enough. It is agreed that while mourning, you may procrastinate probate and your fiduciary duties but this would backfire in the long run. If your delay is seen as an act of negligence, then you may be prosecuted in court for this act. And knowing if the will specifies who gets what is vital as this would aid things for you. Evaluating assets may require you hiring an accountant. If you do not know how to go about all this, kindly hire a probate attorney to offer you professional assistance through probate.
Inefficiently handling financial matters and claims against the estate
As an executor, you should know that your fiduciary duties are bound by law and must be carried out accordingly to the state laws. Not knowing the laws concerning how estate claims are to be paid may land you into serious trouble. To pay estate debts to creditors and funds to beneficiaries, there is a sequence or order to be followed and if this order is not duly followed, you would be held liable when financial issues arise. Some people often lack the know-how on how assets should be distributed to beneficiaries and may likely pay out of order. No matter what the circumstances, a beneficiary designated to receive an amount of money is not expected to be paid that sum by the executor until all estate debts and expenses have been paid. What if you pay the said sum to the beneficiaries and then estate creditors come knocking and then then there are no more funds in the estate checking account?
Thinking you can do it all alone
Be open. Probate is not a one-man war, and you should remove it from your mind that you can accomplish this task all by yourself. You would need assistance from your family members as well as professionals. Probate is legal, and hence you would need legal guidance from a probate attorney in the state in which the deceased lived or owned assets. Hiring a probate lawyer very early is a key factor in the success of probate. They offer you crucial advice and prevent you from making any of these mistakes listed above as well as preventing wastage of time and estate funds. Do not wait until mistakes are already made before hiring a probate lawyer to help correct your mistakes. Hire one as early as possible.
Hiring the wrong probate attorney
This is one of the gravest mistake you could ever make during probate. Hiring the wrong probate lawyer is tantamount to wasting a lot of time and resources on a wild goose chase and then coming back to where you started without accomplishing anything. There are inexperienced lawyers who are solely out for what penny they can get from clients and would offer very little or no commendable assistance. Ensure you seek people’s opinions and carry out proper research on probate lawyers before hiring one. Ensure whoever you choose is of estimable character and professionalism with a lot of experience handling probate for several clients within your state or locality.