While it is an honor to be named as a personal representative (formerly an executor) of a will or estate, it can also be a sobering and daunting responsibility.
Being a personal representative requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are entitled.
If you’ve found yourself in the position of “overwhelmed personal representative,” here are some tips to lighten the load.
Get professional help from an experienced attorney
The caveat to being a personal representative is that once you accept the responsibility, you also accept the liability if something goes wrong.
To protect yourself and make sure you’re crossing all the “i’s” and dotting all the “t’s,” hire an experienced estate planning attorney now.
Having a legal professional in your corner not only helps you avoid pitfalls and blind spots, but it will also give you greater peace of mind during the process. It’s always a good idea to discuss your responsibilities with an attorney before you start taking any actions.
One of the biggest reasons for feeling overwhelmed as a personal representative is when the details are coming at you from all directions.
The Proper organization helps you conquer this problem and regain control. An experienced attorney will advise you on what to do when, but in general, you’ll need to gather several pieces of relevant paperwork to get started.
It’s a good idea to create a file or binder so you can keep track of the original estate planning documents, death certificates, bills, financial statements, insurance policies, and contact information of beneficiaries.
You should bring all of this information to your first meeting with your attorney.
Establish lines of communication
As a personal representative, you are effectively a liaison between multiple parties related to the estate: namely, the courts, the creditors, the IRS, and the heirs.
Create and maintain an up-to-date list of everyone’s contact information. Also, retain records such as copies of correspondence or notes about phone calls you make as personal representative.
Open and honest communication helps keeps the process flowing smoothly and reduces the risk of disputes.
It’s worth repeating because it’s so important — maintain records of all communications, so you can always recall what was said to whom.
If you’re appointed a personal representative, and you are feeling overwhelmed, we can provide experienced counsel and advice to help you through the process.
We can also help you draft your estate plan, so your family can avoid the stress of probate. Give our office a call today for an appointment.
We look forward to hearing from you.