You’ve accepted the responsibility of Executing someone’s Will. You’ve taken care of final arrangements. Now what?
“After the funeral and after the assets have been safeguarded, there are some very important steps that an executor should take,” says Vernon lawyer Robert Culos.
Last month Culos described the essential first steps for Executors probating a Will. Now he’s addressing common mistakes and best-practices for distributing property and handling the estate.
It’s important for an executor to keep a diary of all steps taken and all decisions made, he says. This is because a person who handles assets on behalf of others is a trustee who must report their handling of the estate. Also, it’s normal for beneficiaries to ask lots of questions about the estate and its assets.
“An executor who is well organized will be able to bring some much-needed calm into a challenging situation,” Culos says.
Most executors ask lawyers and accountants to assist with court documents and filing taxes. Keeping expenses and documents well organized will allow an executor to save on these professional expenses.
4 tips for Will Executors
The initial steps in the administration of an estate often include the selling of assets and the paying of bills. However, executors should take care to avoid some common mistakes:
- The house should not be listed before Letters Probate are obtained. “Accepting offers to purchase ‘subject to Probate’ is not a good idea. If there’s a delay in obtaining Letters Probate, the listing might get “stale” and people might assume that there is something wrong with the house,” Culos says.
- The most important thing to do regarding the house is to check the insurance. Most insurance policies provide that the coverage is void if the house remains vacant for 30 days. However, most insurance companies offer a “vacancy permit” which an executor should obtain if the house is not occupied.
- Consult with family about property not listed in the will. Before selling or distributing personal property that is not specifically listed in the will, a wise executor will consult with family members to make sure that nobody is needlessly disappointed.
- If there is any chance that the estate might not have enough assets to pay all of the debts, then an executor must not pay any debts without obtaining professional advice. The Wills Estates and Succession Act dictates that creditors must be paid in a certain order. For example, “reasonable funeral and other expenses incurred by the personal representative (Executor or Administrator) in administering the estate of the deceased
To learn more about estate planning, contact Culos & Co. Law at