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Avoiding Common Mistakes in Estate Administration

When dealing with deep emotions in the aftermath of a loved one’s death, the last thing you want to think about is complex financial and legal concerns. However, if you were named the executor of someone’s estate, it means they trusted you to keep a level head while you oversee the management of their hard-earned assets and the distribution of property to their beneficiaries.

The legal process of administering a person’s estate after their passing is known as probate. It typically can last from six months to a year. As an executor, your job will be gathering and preserving assets, closing and opening bank accounts, paying off creditors, locating beneficiaries, paying estate taxes and otherwise carrying out the terms of the will.

Although the process can be lengthy and involve a lot of paperwork, probate doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some common estate administration mistakes that can make probate costlier and more complex than it needs to be:

  • Putting it off — It’s vital to start the probate process as soon as possible after the funeral and mourning period. The longer probate is delayed, the more pressure and demands you may experience from creditors and beneficiaries to get it done.
  • Neglecting to identify and secure assets — As executor, it’s your job to identify the decedent’s assets and transfer them to the estate as soon as possible. You could be held responsible for financial losses that arise from your failure to protect the assets.
  • Mismanagement of assets — Different assets will need to be handled differently. Real estate may need to be physically locked up, maintained and insured. Financial accounts may simply need to be closed. Other assets, such as trust assets and life insurance policy proceeds, are not required to go through probate and should be dealt with separately.
  • Failing to keep detailed records — Make sure you keep careful records of financial documents, asset valuations, receipts, disbursements and all your actions as executor. That way, you will have all the necessary information ready when it comes time to close the estate, make final distributions and make a report to the court.
  • Neglecting to communicate with the beneficiaries — The estate beneficiaries depend on you to let them know what is going on with the probate process and you have a duty to keep them up to date and informed about your performance of duties as executor.

Because there is so much at stake during the probate process, trying to handle everything yourself can be exhausting and can often lead to problems. Hiring a seasoned estate administration lawyer can help you complete the probate process efficiently and successfully and prevent you from making costly mistakes.

At The Sterling Law Group, A P.C., based in Roseville and Sacramento, our estate administration attorneys have years of experience navigating the California probate process. To schedule an appointment, call 916-790-9202 or contact us online.

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  • Roseville Office
    300 Harding Boulevard
    Suite 205
    Roseville, California 95678
    Phone: 916-790-0852
    Fax: 916-760-2701
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    770 L. Street
    Suite 950
    Sacramento, California 95814
    Phone: 916-790-0852
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