Three Ways Executors Get in Hot Water
An executor of a will has a great responsibility, and unfortunately they are often woefully unprepared for the job. Executors are typically a family member or friend of the testator (the person who made the will), and usually have very little legal knowledge or background in the probate process, which is how a will is officially proven in court. A will must go through probate, and all debts must be paid, before property can be distributed to beneficiaries, and with so many boxes to tick during a time of grief, the executor can quickly become overwhelmed. This is when mistakes are made. Even worse, an executor can be held legally (financially) responsible for any mistakes they make.
Improper Record Keeping and Communication
Executors have a fiduciary duty to distribute property, pay debts, and protect the assets of the decedent. This means they have an obligation to make decisions in the best interest of the estate. Executors must keep immaculate records of all of their decision and transactions, and must communicate often and efficiently with beneficiaries throughout the process.
Failing to Pay Taxes and Debts Owed
According to CBS News, Americans die with an average of $62,000 of debt. Executors often fail to properly pay taxes or debts owed, or even get scammed into paying false debts by scam artists. Some debts need to be paid before others, such as secured debts. And, in some cases the estate will not have enough money to pay all of the debts, meaning that the order in which debts are paid is extremely important. Paying a credit card debt before the loan on the home could mean losing the family property.
Failing to Locate All Assets
Just as Americans have more credits cards than ever before (3.6 per credit card owner according to Gallup), Americans also have property stored in more locations than ever these days. It is one of the executor’s primary tasks to locate all assets, from real property and personal items to bank accounts, stocks and bonds, savings funds, 401(k)s, and safety deposit boxes.
Call Our Bay Area Probate Administration Attorneys
Hiring an experienced probate administration attorney will not only streamline the probate process, but will offer legal protection so that you, as the executor, do not make grave mistakes along the way and face lawsuits from disgruntled family members. For experienced legal help, contact the San Francisco law offices of Lvovich & Szucsko, P.C. today.