If you're the executor of someone's estate, you need to remember one key rule: Probate is a legal process. You're bound to follow certain rules. If you don't, you can end up in litigation that opens you up to personal liability.
There's a wry saying, "Where there's a will, there's disgruntled relatives." But in many cases, that is very true.
If a loved one has recently passed away, in addition to grieving your loss you will likely have to be involved with settling their estate. In most cases, at least some of their estate will need to go through the process of probate.
When your best friend asked you to be the executor of their estate, you accepted immediately. How could you refuse? It's an honor to make sure that your friend's final wishes are obeyed, and the estate is handled properly.
When someone first meets with their estate planning attorney to discuss drafting a will, one of the first things the lawyer asks their client is to identify someone that they can trust to serve as their executor. Estate planning attorneys often encourage their clients to be honest about the responsibilities that they'll be expected to take on as an executor. There's a good reason that attorneys ask their clients to do this. An executor may expose themselves to legal liability if they don't do what they're supposed to.
Losing your mother was hard, so it wasn't easy to sort through her personal papers and other items -- but you knew it was a necessary task. For one thing, you needed to find her will.
When a family member dies, your grief can be compounded by shock and outrage if the will doesn't match up with your expectations.
Trusts are designed to pass wealth from one generation to the next in a smooth, organized way. Trustees have a pretty big job -- and they're expected to do their best to comply with the expectations placed upon them.
When you're the trustee of someone's estate, you have to take reasonable steps to identify and locate that person's heirs. In today's world of highly mobile people, that's not always easy -- but not doing so can create massive headaches. An inadequate search can even leave you exposed to legal liabilities down the line if the heir suddenly resurfaces after an estate has been settled.
Wills and trusts can be complicated legal matters, and they often come out of complicated emotional thinking related to the legacy that someone wants to leave behind when they die. The issues can be more intricate when people are leaving large assets of various types to inheritors, and smart estate planners make sure their interests are protected.