The executor of an estate may think that their duties in that role are straightforward. Most times they are, but there are potential pitfalls that would-be executors should be aware of.
For instance, a will might be invalid. Have an estate attorney review the will to make sure it meets the requirements of state law. If the will was done in a different state, make sure it was executed according to the laws of the state that it was executed in. If you begin administering the estate before taking this step, you may have to undo what was previously done should the will not pass muster. If a will is found to be invalid, the estate will be administered as if the will never existed.
If you are told there is no will, it’s a good idea to verify that important detail. If you proceed with an intestate probate administration (one done without a will) and then find out there’s a will, you’ve wasted some time and effort. In addition, if the decedent left a will, make sure it’s the most recent version. Sometimes a person passes away before giving anyone the heads-up about an updated will. And a will does need to be probated before the beneficiaries can get their inheritance, the difference between having a will and not having a will is with a will you dictate who is a beneficiary, without a will the court and laws dictate.
There’s also a scenario in which an unintended disinheritance can occur, which can cause a slew of problems. One example is the use of a reciprocal will. This is when married couples leave everything to each other first, then to their children. If the couple have children from previous marriages, it’s possible that the children of the first spouse to pass away do not inherit anything. You can imagine how that could complicate the estate administration process.
Contact an experienced estate attorney to help you with all matters of wills, trusts, and estate planning and administration.