Being put in charge of a loved one’s estate doesn’t have to be stressful. If you are the executor of an estate or successor trustee of a trust, then you have a legal responsibility to manage the assets of the trust or estate in accordance with both the will/trust and applicable State laws. According to Judy Martel at Bankrate, “The executor’s natural inclination is to “make everyone happy and distribute the assets . . . but if the executor rushes and misses some crucial legal steps, he or she could be found personally liable. This is where having an attorney who knows the rules will help.”
Since this can be a difficult task for anyone, here are our Four Tips for Effortless Estate Administration:
One: Locate and Protect All Assets
According to Foxbusiness The very first thing an Estate Executor or Trustee should do is determine, locate, and protect all assets. Assets can be property, artwork, bank accounts, and more. This is most likely the first thing your attorney will ask you for.
Two: Decide Who Gets What
Deciding who gets what is often the most stressful part of this process, because often times people have vested interests in certain things due to nostalgia, or value. Bankrate says It’s important to remain impartial to all parties involved and follow the guidelines of any wills or trusts. Identify and inventory the decedent’s property, and have that property appraised, Pay debts and taxes, and Distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the Will or Trust. If there is no Will or Trust you must use your State’s laws of intestate succession (this is usually supervised by the probate Court).
Three: Take Your Time
You don’t have to rush this process. According to HanleyLaw, the Executor’s [or Trustee’s] natural inclination is to “make everyone happy and distribute the assets.” However be sure that while doing this you follow the proper legal guidelines in the proper order. Take everything a step at a time. It’s easy to become daunted by how much there is to be done. Divide everything into small steps, and focus on one step at a time.
Make sure to use due diligence with each step in order to make the entire process go as smoothly as possible. Expect there to be a few hiccups along the way, that’s just a part of the job, and prepare accordingly.
Four: Seek Professional Advice
You can avoid mistakes by consulting with an estate attorney who is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law. Your financial advisor and CPA can also provide expertise. We encourage you to reach out to the Law Offices of Joel A. Harris for any Estate Administration needs.