While it is an honor to be named as the executor of an estate, it can also be a daunting responsibility. Being a personal representative requires a lot of attention and organization to meet all the responsibilities. If you’ve been named as an executor here are some tips to help you from feeling overwhelmed.
1. Get Professional Help
Being an executor means a lot of responsibility. It also means a lot of liability if something goes wrong. To protect yourself and to makes sure you’re doing everything you need to, consider hiring an estate planning attorney to guide and advise you throughout the process. Having a legal professional in your corner not only helps you avoid some obvious issues, it will also give you a greater peace of mind.
2. Get Organized
One reason executors feel overwhelmed is that details and duties come from all directions. Getting organized from the beginning will help you stay in control and deal with issues effectively as they arise. You attorney can advise you about what needs to be done and when so that you are only focusing on what is important, not everything at once.
In general, you will need to gather all of the important paperwork to get started. It’s a good idea to create a file or binder to keep everything in one place. Examples of what you will need to gather are all the original estate planning documents, death certificates, bills, financial statements, insurance policies, and contact information of beneficiaries and important people. Bringing this information to your first meeting with your attorney is a great start.
3. Establish Lines of Communication
As an executor, you will be the central point of contact for anyone and anything involving the estate. This includes the beneficiaries and family, courts, creditors, IRS, and anyone else who wants to deal with the estate. Create and maintain an up-to-date list of everyone’s contact information, mailing address, and email address. You will also want to make notes about any contact or correspondence you have as an executor.
Open and honest communication can help the process flow smoothly. It also reduces stress and disputes that might arise. A lack of communication is one of the leading complaints about executors made to the probate court. In the worst cases, a lack of communication can result in being replaced as executor. It’s worth repeating that keeping records of all communications is critical so you can always recall what was said to whom and the efforts you have made to maintain open lines of communication.
If you have been appointed as executor, we can provide the counsel and advice you need to get through the process of settling the estate. We can also help you set up your own estate plan so your family can avoid the stress caused by probate.