If your loved one named you an executor over his or her estate, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all the responsibilities the role might entail. In addition to dealing with the emotional aftermath of your loved one’s death, you must also now navigate the estate administration process, which, in some cases, can prove highly complicated.
As important as recognizing what to do as an executor is understanding what not to do in your role; learning some of the most common mistakes executors make can help you learn to avoid making the same errors yourself. So, if you have the duty of handling your loved one’s estate after his or her passing, make every effort not to do the following:
Distribute assets too early
One of the single most common errors executors often make is to distribute assets to beneficiaries before taking care of other important matters. For example, if you distribute assets before paying taxes and other obligations, it becomes your responsibility to make up the difference.
Fail to publicize the distribution of the estate
As an executor, you have a duty to make your distribution of the estate public knowledge. Why? If your loved one died and still owed money to creditors, your advertising of the estate gives them a chance to make a claim for what the decedent owes.
Fail to properly close the estate
Once you have paid any remaining creditors and distributed any remaining assets in accordance with your loved one’s wishes, you have an obligation to formally close the estate. You can do so through several methods. You can file a family settlement agreement where beneficiaries contend that they did, in fact, receive what the decedent left them. You can also close the estate by having a judge approve and sign off on the fact that you made all distributions appropriately.
Estate administration can prove highly convoluted, but it is essential that you follow every step closely to avoid landing in trouble or causing unnecessary stress or hardship.