Have you been made the executor of an estate? You might be surprised to know how much work it will entail.
The average probate process is rather expensive. It can easily cost 10% of the value of the estate. In addition, probate can take several months or even a few years to complete.
You will probably discover that being the executor of an estate is going to be a lot more work than you expected. However, there are essential steps that you can take to resolve the process more quickly.
Here are some things you can do to complete the probate more quickly. Thomas R. Mendez Walser, part of a team of Fort Lauderdale Florida probate lawyers, has emphasized the importance of following the right steps.
“The probate process can be long and arduous. Fortunately, it will go much more smoothly if you understand the details involved, keep yourself organized, and have the right team behind you,” Walser explains.
Think about all the places that you might need to look for missing information
You will need a lot of different documents to complete the probate process. You will need a copy of the most recent will, deeds for real estate, bank account numbers, credit card statements, and vital certificates.
Unfortunately, this information can be challenging to track down. The loved one that has passed away won’t be around to help you find them. So, you will have to know where to look for the information you need. You also need to recognize the possibility that some information might not exist. For example, 68% of Americans do not have a will, so you can’t spend forever looking for something that doesn’t exist.
You will have to consider the following potential places:
- Safe deposit boxes at the bank
- The lawyers that they worked with before they passed away
- Old cabinets and basements in the home they lived in before they died
- Other properties that they might have owned
- Other family members that they might have trusted with their important information
You will need to do your due diligence and try to find this information before resorting to alternatives, such as reaching out to local public officials who might help you.
Get the contact information for everyone involved and make notes of the best communication mediums for each
You will have to work with a lot of people when you are the executor of an estate. You are going to have to have conversations with attorneys, appointed officials in probate court, real estate agents, certified public accountants and the named beneficiaries.
The process will be a lot more difficult if you don’t know how to get in touch with people the right way. You need to ensure that you have accurate, up-to-date contact information for everybody involved. You also need to make notes of the best ways to reach each individual. For example, some people prefer talking on the phone and rarely check their emails. Keeping track of their preferred means of communication will make things a lot easier when you need timely information.
Make sure that you have the right A-team in place
You will need to work with experienced professionals handling probate issues. You will need to consult with lawyers, accountants, and other experts.
Take some time to review testimonials and online profiles of potential experts. You don’t want to work with people who will not do the job well.
Make sure that the documents are the most recent available
Unfortunately, a lot of older people changed banks, wills, and other details numerous times before they passed away. As a result, they might have had a duplicate deed to a property after one was lost, even though they no longer own that property anymore. This can make things quite complicated.
You are going to need to take the time to look at all of your documents carefully. Then, you must cross-reference them and resolve any inaccuracies that you come across.
Communicate regularly and honestly with all beneficiaries
Probate issues can bring out the worst in people. Even close siblings might end relationships if they feel cheated in the process.
You need to demonstrate integrity and transparency throughout the entire process. This involves sending regular updates to all other beneficiaries. They will be a lot less anxious and frustrated if you do everything possible to show that you are being as honest as possible.
Always take care of any debts before distributing any assets
Beneficiaries are going to get antsy during the probate process. Unfortunately, they are going to have to be patient. You can’t give any assets to them until all outstanding debts have been paid on the estate. You must wait for the greenlight from the court before sending any assets to a beneficiary.