Being an executor isn’t easy. It’s filled with responsibilities, and you have to balance legal requirements with emotional strain from beneficiaries and heirs. Here are two tips you can use to be better as an executor of your parent’s estate.
First, secure the estate the moment you know that your loved one has passed. If you can, begin to secure the estate prior to your loved one’s passing, so you know where assets are after his or her death. It’s a tumultuous time in your life, but this has to be done correctly. Some planning ahead of time makes it easier to access assets when it’s time to do so.
After your parent passes away, make sure to lock the doors to the home and vehicles, and change the locks if you can. Collect all keys to the vehicles, so no one can take them without permission. If someone takes a car belonging to the estate and crashes, the estate could be held liable.
Second, take time to stay in touch with anyone who’s a beneficiary. Heirs will want to know when they can expect assets or funds to transfer into their names. That can’t happen until all debts, tax-related and otherwise, are paid by you, the executor. Keep records on making those payments, so you can prove that you’re in process. On that note, keep records of everything you do.
Sometimes, a partial distribution is possible. If there are tangible items that are smaller, like furniture or jewelry, it could be a good idea to distribute those items while you wait for large-ticket items to be appraised or for debts to be paid off and finalized. Be as transparent as possible with beneficiaries to avoid claims against the way you’ve handled the estate. If a claim does arise, your attorney can use that documentation and transparency to defend you.
Source: U.S. News, “4 Tips to Be a Better Executor,” Debbie Carlson, accessed March 24, 2017