By Tara Frame
Frame & Frame, Attorneys At Law
Probate, which is the legal process of conveying assets from a deceased person to the heirs, does not have to be a massive headache. For many, however, it is just that. The many pitfalls of probate for an executor include wasted time and money, calls from creditors demanding payment, disgruntled family members who felt they were left out of the will and blame you for it, and even lawsuits.
As an executor, you have many responsibilities, including a fiduciary duty to do what is in the best interest of the estate. Violating this fiduciary duty can result in a personal lawsuit against you, filed by any number of parties. It is easy to see why many executors feel as if their hair is graying or falling out more quickly than it should. And to top it all off, this pressure and stress come during a period of enormous grief.
After the death of a loved one, none of us is at our best, most rational selves, and carrying out complicated legal matters can become even more daunting. Hiring an experienced probate lawyer will help reduce your stress and get the various elements well organized. However, by following some specific guidelines, you can help your probate lawyer and set yourself up for a successful, low-stress administration of the estate, including probate.
Keep Accurate Records and Organize Your Paperwork
Keeping records of your actions is two-fold. For one, you are required to submit a detailed report of your actions to the beneficiaries. This account must be as accurate as it is detailed. Secondly, keeping accurate records of your actions keeps you on track and organized. The amount of paperwork and electronic documents that you will go through is sometimes staggering. Organize all documents as you go and keep your records just as clear. There is actually a third benefit to keeping detailed records: protection. If your actions can be well documented and your reasons for taking certain measures justified, you have a better chance of defending potential lawsuits against you for negligence or alleged wrongdoing.
Stay On Schedule
Probate typically takes anywhere from six months to a year. However, with complications, it can take longer than this. Staying on schedule and accomplishing tasks in order is vital during probate. The right actions must be taken at the correct time, and keeping on schedule is absolutely necessary.
Work With An Attorney
The most important step you can take to minimize the stress of probate is to hire an attorney. Probate attorneys will help you every step of the way, guiding you around pitfalls and working closely with you to make the best decisions. And, if there is a contest by one of the beneficiaries, an experienced probate litigator is crucial.
According to the American Bar Association, one of the most common causes of probate litigation (when someone contests the will or alleges that the executor has acted improperly or not in the best interests of the estate) is having the “wrong” person take on the role of executor. If you believe that you are not cut out for the job, talk to an attorney first. Guidance from a probate attorney can help relieve the stress you are feeling, or if you think it is best to get another party to fill in, we can help you decide if this is actually necessary.
Call Frame & Frame at 410-255-0373 for more information about probate.