Four Mistakes Many Executors Make

When it comes to handling the probate of a loved one it is easy to fall prey to these mistakes. These mistakes are made by surviving spouses, surviving children, surviving partners and other heirs but are easily avoided with a little planning and preparation.

1. Working with the wrong lawyer or law firm.

This mistake can be hard to avoid. You may have called the person who prepared the will or was recommended by a close friend or family member. This mistake can result in a lengthy probate process. This mistake may manifest itself in a lawyer that won’t return phone calls, a lawyer you don’t get along with or one who is working outside their area of expertise. You can avoid this problem by seeking a lawyer who regularly handles probate cases. Like any other business a lawyer should be able to provide references upon request. In today’s world of technology those references can show up as testimonials on their website, this allows you to prescreen the lawyer before you call.

2. Ignoring the probate proceeding.

Once your loved one dies it is your job to collect the will and get it filed in the probate court. There is no one to remind you to do this. There are potential consequences of delaying this step. In Texas, a will must be filed within four years of the death or it is only accepted for the limited purpose of transferring titled property. You could miss important tax filing deadlines for an estate that requires an estate tax return. A time delay can also make it harder to gather the assets and determine the debts.

3. Failing to maintain communication with all the heirs.

This can cause a rift in family relationships. A great deal of stress is created when you are an heir but cannot get any information on the status of the probate proceeding. This stress can lead to resentment, suspicions and a breakdown of family relationships.

4. Ignoring current and future tax consequences.

When handling a probate the executor is responsible for the final income tax return, an income tax return for income during the probate process and estate tax returns when appropriate. There are a number of decisions that must be made to determine what must be filed and missing a deadline can incur penalties. Not all estates will need all of these filings but a failure to understand what is necessary can deplete the assets of the estate.

While the job of executor can seem daunting, it can be a smooth process when handled in a timely fashion with the help of a qualified attorney.

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Law Offices of Debbie J. Cunningham

Debbie Cunningham is an Irving attorney providing affordable estate planning to the Dallas/ Fort-Worth areas. She understands the steps you should take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Debbie is family-focused and wants to ensure her clients are fully informed on the options that are available for their families. Debbie’s own blended family has given her valuable insights into the complexities of family dynamics.

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