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3 tips to follow if you are the executor of an estate

Being designated an executor of a will can be a daunting responsibility. If you do not know much about the role, you probably have a lot of questions. You are responsible for handling the estate of the decedent, including identifying, valuing and distributing assets.

Taking on this role does not have to be scary. If you have concerns, keep reading for tips to fulfill your duties as an executor.

1. Follow the will closely

As an executor, you are a fiduciary, meaning you are liable if something goes wrong. You might be dealing with impatient or suspicious beneficiaries who resort to probate litigation. In order to steer clear of controversy and litigation, you must follow all the details in the will. You need court approval if you are going to deviate from the will in any manner.

2. Secure the estate promptly

Be proactive in protecting and collecting assets. This includes gathering keys to any cars and changing locks on the house. You should also inform heirs and creditors of the death as soon as possible. Creditors have a limited period to make claims.

3. Communicate with beneficiaries

The probate process can take several months or longer depending on the complexity of the estate. Beneficiaries can get antsy and want their distributions immediately. Open a line of communication early on to inform them of the process. In certain circumstances, you may be able to make small, partial distributions to appease angry beneficiaries, but this should be done with careful deliberation and caution. Be transparent and helpful without bending to intimidation.

Administering an estate might seem complex and confusing, but you can get the hang of it. You may want to hire an attorney for guidance on the probate process. Having an attorney help you can relieve some of the stress and take the pressure off of doing everything on your own.

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