Overseeing a probate process can seem like a daunting task. There are assets to be inventoried, bills to be paid, heirs to be notified – it’s not an easy job, to say the least. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Here are five tips that will make that job just a little bit easier.
You can say no.
Yes, seriously. You don’t have to be the executor, even if you’ve already been named in the Will. You can say no and many people do for a whole host of reasons. There is no penalty for refusing the job. Just keep in mind that if you don’t do it, someone else will and that “someone else” may not be as organized and trustworthy and responsible as you.
There are some assets that don’t need to go through probate.
Many assets are designed to pass automatically upon the death of the owner and do not require a probate process. These include any joint accounts, life insurance policies, pay-on-death (POD) accounts, transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts, retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or an IRA, and any property that is already held in a trust. As long as the named beneficiary is a person(s) or third-party entity and not the estate itself, these accounts do not need to go through probate.
You’re allowed time to take inventory.
In fact, that’s part of your job as executor. Some estates are straightforward and nicely organized, but some are not, so don’t worry if you don’t immediately know what’s what and where it’s all located. You’re allowed the time you need to pull it all together.
You’ll be granted the authority you need.
As the designated representative, the court will grant you the authority you need to handle matters of the estate. This means you’ll be able to call the bank and the creditors, access account information, request copies of statements and bills and policies. You’ll likely have to provide proof of that authority, but it’s a formality. You’ll have what you need to take a proper inventory.
You don’t have to do this alone.
This is the most important tip we can offer, so listen close: having an experienced probate attorney at your side is invaluable during this process. Your attorney already knows what forms need to be filed, what questions need to be asked and what rules need to be followed. A good probate attorney can guide you through the entire procedure and make your job much easier in the process.
So, call us today. Let us help you honor your loved one’s memory by giving their estate the care and attention it deserves.