Being the executor of an estate is not an easy job. There is a lot to it and if one is not careful, mistakes may be made. Here are some common mistakes that executors have made working through the probate process in Pennsylvania.
Mistake number one: distributing assets too early. There are several things that should be done before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries. If an executor skips any of those steps and goes straight to distributing assets, he or she may be held personally responsible if a miscalculation of liabilities occurred.
Mistake number two: failing to contact creditors. When someone passes away, their creditors have a right to be contacted so that they can try to recover the money owed them from the decedent’s estate. Once being notified, creditors need to file any claims they wish to make in a certain time frame. If they fail to do that, they no longer have a right to collect the debt. If they are not given the opportunity to make a claim due to a lack of notification, again, the executor may be held personally responsible.
Mistake number three: failing to properly close out the estate. An executor’s job is not over after distributions have been made. It is necessary to officially close the estate. There are a few ways to go about doing this. One is to file a family settlement agreement — this shows that all beneficiaries agree with how the estate was managed –another is to seek court approval.
No one wants to have money coming out of their own pockets to cover the mistakes they made during the Pennsylvania probate process. The best way to avoid making mistakes is to seek assistance from an experienced probate attorney. Legal counsel can walk an executor through every step, help him or her deal with creditor or family claims, and ensure the estate is closed properly.