Settling an estate can be a stressful, confusing and daunting task. As you assume the role of executor, you may encounter various problems and have a lot of questions. The most important thing to do is to obtain sound advice so you can avoid mistakes.
Making an error while managing an estate can cause you to be personally liable. The beneficiaries may take action to remove you or even get monetary compensation from you if you do not fulfill your responsibilities. Here are some glaring mistakes to avoid as you take on this position.
1. Ignoring beneficiaries
One of your core duties as an executor is to treat beneficiaries with fairness and transparency. You need to keep all interested parties informed of the process. Some beneficiaries may be impatient, annoying or even hostile. But if you decide to ignore them, matters will only get worse. Practice patience and consistent communication, even with troublesome individuals. While you do not necessarily need to bend to the will of beneficiaries, especially when it contradicts the will, you should at least maintain an open line of communication.
Probating an estate can be intimidating and full of legal complexities. You may also be dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. But do not let these troubles result in procrastination. Waiting too long can have devastating effects for you and the estate. Make sure you meet all deadlines and resolve problems as soon as possible.
As the executor, you may feel a sense of entitlement or favoritism from the decedent. But being the representative of the estate does not mean you get to benefit unfairly from it. For example, you may feel the temptation to sell an estate asset to yourself for below the market value, but the probate court and beneficiaries may remove you for participating in self-enriching actions.
Any breaches of your fiduciary duties can jeopardize your legal standing, finances and reputation.