As the executor of someone’s estate, you take on a lot of responsibility. You have to settle their financial matters, distribute property appropriately and even file tax returns. On top of that, you will have to juggle family relationships with people who may be unhappy with the responsibilities that you must fulfill.
Particularly when someone leaves behind multiple heirs or a large estate, the possibility of family conflict is a real concern during estate administration. Siblings can turn against each other, and blended families may implode during probate proceedings.
As the executor of the estate, you can take steps to greatly reduce the amount of conflict the probate proceedings cause for the family.
Be as transparent as possible As soon as you know that you will be the executor of the estate, you can take steps to limit future conflicts. You can notify everyone in the family of your appointment as executor and invite them to review the estate documents.
Transparency early in the process can help people adjust their expectations to the reality of what they will actually inherit. However, there may still be people who are dissatisfied or angry with the terms of the estate plan. You can protect yourself from challenges brought by unhappy airs with careful planning.
Ensure you understand the estate plan The language used in an estate plan may include legal jargon that confuses you. As someone who doesn’t work in the legal field, you may not be familiar with some of the terminology or the different implications of seemingly normal phrases in legal documents.
To ensure that you don’t make mistakes that open you or the estate challenges later, it is important to thoroughly review the state documents, ideally with the help of a legal professional, to ensure that you take the right steps during estate administration.
Document your actions You will need to use estate assets to pay off someone’s credit cards and to cover their last utility bills. Whenever you use the estate’s resources, you want to keep a clear record of what you did and why.
Even when you distribute assets to beneficiaries, you may want to have them sign receipts so that you can prove how you distributed in mayonnaise property. Those records can help you protect your position as executor and defuse claims brought by those trying to challenge your role or obtain more of the estate assets than the plan leaves to them.
Being proactive about protecting yourself will reduce the risks you have as the executor of an estate during the probate process.