If you are named the executor of a loved one's estate, you might feel overwhelmed and like you're not prepared to take on this responsibility. Also, if you make a mistake as an executor of a will, you may be held financially liable for any mistakes you make. For this reason, you will want to consider hiring an estate administration attorney as soon as possible.
Do Not Procrastinate
Figuring out the legal processes of an estate when you have never been an executor before can be very confusing. It may also cost you money if someone who has an interest in the state believes that you cost them money as a result of procrastinating. Instead, you will want to get an attorney involved as soon as possible.
You will also want to take time to find a lawyer who is specifically experienced with estate administration. There are some probate lawyers who have decades of experience assisting in probate within the state in which your loved one resided. Estate administration can be a time-consuming process and an estate administration attorney will often have a team of experienced legal assistants helping them.
For example, you will need to identify assets quickly and secure them. You will also need to cancel payments that are no longer necessary such as payments to subscription services.
Hire an Attorney to Prepare the Financial Tax Return
You are required to file a final tax return for your loved one if they are eligible to pay taxes. You may also be held financially liable for any mistakes that were made in the tax return. Fortunately, an estate administration attorney can assist you in filing taxes.
Honor Your Fiduciary Duty
A fiduciary duty means that you are ethically bound to act in the best interest of the estate. You are not allowed to mishandle assets or use assets for your own personal gain or you may be held civilly or criminally liable. However, many executors fail to meet their obligations simply because they do not have the proper legal counsel.
For example, there are several claims you will likely need to pay as the executor using the assets. However, you will need to pay these claims in the proper order as established by law. For example, you may need to pay for funeral expenses and credit card balances before you are allowed to distribute assets to loved ones. To avoid making these mistakes, consult with an estate attorney early on.