An executor will often shoulder the burdens of untangling a person’s estate, but can still commit easily avoidable errors, says Atlanta’s Elder Law attorney Brian M. Douglas.
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The founder of Brian M. Douglas & Associates, LLC, elaborated: “An executor carries a lot of power in managing an estate plan and distributing assets as they deal with legal, financial and tax issues.”
One of their priorities should be to secure all assets as soon as possible. These can range from tracking down financial assets to physically locking up or maintaining a decedent’s property.
However, their failure to handle assets correctly is a common area for potential complaints. “One pitfall for an executor is failing to properly categorize a decedent’s assets. Non-probate examples include trust assets, life insurance policies, and retirement account funds that pass by way of beneficiary designation.”
Another matter easily overlooked is obtaining a Date of Death value for all of the decedent’s assets. This should be done as close after death as possible, so this value is easier to calculate. If a property is involved, a qualified real estate appraiser will be required.
An executor’s inability to communicate with beneficiaries and creditors on developments was another common failing, and contributes to unnecessary litigation. Creditors must receive notice of a pending estate administration, and the estate must remain open for a statutory period to enable creditors to file a claim.
Douglas stated: “In both cases, executors should seek professional advice and retain the services of a probate attorney who can act as a guiding hand. If they don’t, the probate process may take longer than necessary, and an executor may make costly errors during that period.”
He said that the failure to handle creditors’ claims, distributing assets too quickly, miscalculating estate taxes, and neglecting to issue an inventory and accounting in an estate are additional errors executors are guilty of.
“Executors may also fail to look at alternatives to the formal probate administration. In some states, a small estate affidavit or filing the will for probate may be options instead of formal probate with full administration. This could save considerable cost and time.”
Douglas concluded: “Being an executor is no easy task, so working with an experienced probate attorney can save them from committing unintentional mistakes, reducing the estate’s value, and adding more grief to an already emotional time.”
Name: Brian M. Douglas
Email: Send Email
Organization: Brian M. Douglas & Associates, LLC
Address: 900 Circle 75 Parkway SE, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone: (770) 933-9009
Release ID: 89081752