Being put in charge of an estate is a huge responsibility, both legally and ethically. Given some of the potential difficulties that come with the job of being an executor, you may want to consult with an estate administration attorney. Here are five times when that's a worthwhile idea.
Handling the Estate is Going to Take a While
The longer it takes to distribute the proceeds from an estate, the greater your legal risk exposure is likely to be. In particular, your fiduciary responsibilities can present risks when it comes to preserving the value of the estate. An estate administration attorney can help you decide, for example, what sorts of accounts should be used to protect the money that comes with it.
Failing to observe your fiduciary duties may leave you on the hook for paying back any losses that might occur. In the worst scenarios, certain actions may be seen as self-serving or even fraudulent, leading to criminal exposure.
The Estate is Large
A massive estate, especially one with many types of property, can be a challenge to handle. For example, how do you distribute the value of a baseball card collection? The same sorts of concerns apply to things like diamonds, jewelry, cars, coins, and gold. It's important to have everything faithfully appraised before you get too wild about making distributions.
Debts and Taxes
The settlement of outstanding debts and tax bills is a big part of administering an estate. You may not be sure how to go about verifying that all these items have been paid in full. Likewise, it's important to clearly document payment to prevent issues down the road. An estate administration attorney can help you get the details and the paperwork right.
Trouble Finding Beneficiaries
Making a concerted effort to find and notify all beneficiaries of an estate lies at the core of the job of the executor. If you can't find someone, you will need to find a way to document what happened to them, preserve their portion of the estate, and possibly even prove that they've passed.
If there is a risk that certain parties are going to raise questions about the estate, you may want to retain counsel. This is particularly the case if you suspect someone is going to question your work as an administrator. You'll need to document every move that's made during the administration process to ensure there's no way to question your decisions or motives.
For more information, reach out to a local estate administration attorney.