Handling a probate process can be a daunting experience for anyone. While going through a probate process, a small mistake can delay distribution and management of the assets as intended in the will. If you are an executor or an administrator in an estate and will planning, you must seek help from an estate and probate lawyer.
Here are some common pitfalls to avoid in the probate process.
1. Not retaining competent counsel.
Dealing with the loss of someone dear is, in itself, an overwhelming experience. On top of that, trying to handle legal matters on your own can lead to trouble. At first, you might think that managing the probate process with an attorney will save you money. However, by taking help from a legal counsel, you can avoid breaching fiduciary obligations and ensure everything resolves in time.
The demise of a loved one can result in a mental breakdown. During such a time, handling the probate process is the last thing anyone thinks about. However, delaying the process will only add to the problems. The more time you spend grieving, the more taxes will add up. Besides this, creditors may start pestering you for repayment, and legal heirs may become impatient.
Once you qualify as an administrator or an executor, you have a particular timeline to follow. There is a specific time up till which the beneficiaries must be notified of the process. After qualifying as an executor, you must prepare an inventory and file it with the Commissioner of Accounts within four months. You must also provide an account of all the assets going in and out of the estate within 16 months.
3. Not Maintaining Accurate Accounting Records
One of the most crucial tasks of an executor is to keep an account of all the assets. Probate and estate attorney suggests that an executor maintain a record of everything they do. This will make it easier to gather necessary documents when submitting final accounts to the Commissioner of Accounts, paying taxes, or distributing the assets to the heirs.
4. Not Communicate with the Beneficiaries
When undergoing a probate process, you must ensure that the beneficiaries are adequately informed and engaged. The matter can turn litigious if you fail to establish a clear line of communication with the beneficiaries. Here, an experienced probate lawyer can assist you in handling the heirs, creditors, and investors while you deal with the loss of your loved one.
5. Distributing Assets in a hurry
It’s upon the administrator named in the estate planning to approve creditors and resolve payments. They are also tasked with the duty to distribute the assets to the legal heirs. There are times when the assets are not enough to settle all the claims. If this is the case, the law says that one must settle creditors first. Failing to abide by the law can land you in legal trouble and add to your personal liability.
6. Mistake in Calculating Estate Taxes
All estates fall under federal gift and estate taxes. Making a mistake in calculating the federal taxes can land you in trouble and diminish the value of the estate. As an executor, it is your responsibility to file estate tax returns.