Troubleshooting Legal Problems

4 probate mistakes that are best avoided

Unless you served as someone’s executor in the past, you may be learning the process as you go. The executor role brings with it many important responsibilities, and failing to follow certain guidelines may wind up costing you and your loved ones a good deal of money.  

Recognizing where other executors often make mistakes may help you avoid making similar errors yourself. When you hold the executor role, try to avoid making the following common probate errors.  

1. Paying bills out of order

Some debts need more prompt payment than others. Certain expenses, such as taxes or funeral or burial expenses, are more of a priority than others. Avoid paying credit cards or other bills before these expenses.   

2. Failing to communicate with beneficiaries

You also have an obligation to communicate with beneficiaries when you hold the executor role. Failing to do so may increase the chances of litigation.  

3. Failing to notify creditors

As an executor, you also have to notify any creditors who may have claims to the estate about its existence. This may require running a notice in a local newspaper.  

4. Mismanaging real estate

You may also have to figure out what to do with any real estate holdings of the deceased in your executor role. More specifically, you may need to make improvements to a property to prepare it for sale or figure out a selling price for a property, among related efforts. Making errors in this area may cost thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars.  

Try to view your executor role as a professional duty and avoid letting beneficiaries or others sway your judgment.