The Challenges of Being a Personal Representative (Executor)
Being named to the position of Personal Representative (executor) for a loved one is both flattering and terrifying. Unless you have done it before, you’ll need some pointers, which are provided in Legacy.com’s article, “Seven tips for getting the job done as smoothly as possible.”
- Take adequate time to grieve. In many instances, you’ll be named as Personal Representative (executor) or Trustee of the estate of a family member or close friend. It is important to remember that, although there will be things that need to be done immediately, you’ll also have time to take a breath, mourn, and make it through the first few weeks after the death without worrying about all the Personal Representative (executor) or Trustee tasks that lie ahead. I always tell my clients when they come in for a consultation after someone has passed away, almost all bills can wait, and that they should focus on themselves.
- Ask for help. Settling an estate can be confusing, with all of the complicated documents and the probate court process. You really shouldn’t tackle this process by yourself. It is helpful to work with an experienced probate attorney. Estate funds can be used to pay their fees, and remember that the Personal Representative (executor) or Trustee manages the process and may call upon professionals to help.
- Keep everything organized. Make a list of things that need to be done, and once they’re finished, place your notes and documentation in a filing system. Keep records. Get in the habit of making notes whenever you correspond with someone regarding the estate.
- Communicate with beneficiaries. These people have a vested interest in settling an estate. Communicate with them often and put them at ease about the progress. This is the number one problem that I hear from beneficiaries, lack of communication or being in the dark about their inheritance. If you are a beneficiary you should speak/consult with an experienced probate attorney after someone passes away.
- Take care of yourself. In addition to the stress of being Personal Representative (executor) or Trustee, you may need to deal with the stress of the loss. Grief and sadness can remain for a long time. Be sure to not forget to take care of yourself. The healing process can be ongoing.
- Everything doesn’t have to be done at once. It usually takes a year to settle an estate, so don’t put pressure on yourself to complete the project faster … even if you’re getting pressured by beneficiaries to hurry up and give them their share of assets. As an experienced Probate Lawyer, I frequently hear the following from beneficiaries, "How much money am I going to receive and when?"
- If possible, discuss the person’s wishes and get details while they are living. If possible, talk with the person about details, such as where the will is located, what type of funeral they want, contact info for their estate planning attorney, CPA and financial advisor, as well as any asset lists and account numbers.
There’s no way to make this a stress-free assignment, but these guidelines will help, as will the counsel of trusted professionals. Who better to go to than Daniel T. Fleischer?
Has someone you know and loved named you as Personal Representative or Trustee or are you a beneficiary of an estate or trust? Do you live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties in Florida? Laws are constantly changing-- probate takes time Call me (954-888-1747) right away for peace of mind. I can help!
- My practice is exclusively estate planning and probate,
- I have prepared numerous estate plans in 16 years of practice,
- I have administered estates and trusts through Probate all over Florida,
- I am a Certified Financial Planner Professional™, and
- I am here for YOU today and there for your FAMILY tomorrow.
Reference: legacy.com (December 2, 2016) “Seven tips for getting the job done as smoothly as possible”