Concerned about Probate? Mistakes to Avoid
People named as the executor or administrator of a person’s estate bear the challenging responsibility of managing the estate’s affairs throughout probate. Probate can be arduous and overwhelming, and many people lack experience navigating the probate process and inadvertently make errors that may impact the rights of the beneficiaries and cause delays. If you were recently tasked with administrating an estate and you are concerned about probate, you should be aware of what mistakes to avoid making the process easier. As such, you should talk to a trusted estate planning lawyer as soon as possible.
One of the most egregious mistakes people make during the probate process is failing to retain the assistance of competent counsel. An estate planning attorney will typically possess ample experience navigating the probate process and will advise the executor or administrator of relevant deadlines, their rights and duties, and any other pertinent information. Additionally, they can assist the executor or administrator with filing any necessary documents and help them to maintain thorough and accurate records.
Another error that can cause issues in the probate process is putting off finding the deceased person’s will and filing it in the Superior Court of the appropriate county. Under Washington’s probate laws, any individual that possesses the will of a deceased person must file it with the probate court or give it to the personal representative of the estate within thirty days of learning of the person’s death. If the personal representative has the will, they must file it with the appropriate court within forty days. While people grappling with the death of a loved one might be tempted to put off the probate process so that they can grieve, the decision can have negative consequences.
It is also important that executors and administrators conduct a thorough inventory of the estate’s assets and debts and keep accurate records of any transactions and conversations related to the administration of the estate. The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for paying any taxes owed by the estate, resolving debts, distributing the remaining assets to any heirs, and submitting a final accounting to the Commissioner of Accounts. If their records are inaccurate or incomplete, it can lead to objections from an heir or a judge. Additionally, if questions arise regarding any of the executor or administrator’s transactions, they will need to produce detailed records to quell concerns about the legitimacy of their dealings.
Finally, many executors and administrators make the mistake of failing to communicate with heirs to the estate. It is generally beneficial to be transparent during probate, so that no one is surprised by the ultimate outcome or attempts to challenge the decisions made throughout the process.
Talk to a Trusted Estate Planning Attorney Today
The probate process can be demanding, but with careful planning, executors and administrators of an estate can avoid making mistakes that cause delays and discord. If you have questions about the probate process, it is in your best interest to schedule a meeting to speak to a skilled Washington estate planning attorney today. Call Gregorek & Associates at 425-284-3450 or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.