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Should an estate executor proceed quickly?

After the death of a New York resident, it is incumbent upon the executor of the estate to oversee the assets of the deceased until the estate goes through probate and the assets are ready to be distributed to the heirs. Some executors may want to pass along the assets as quickly as possible. However, there are important reasons not to rush matters when it comes to overseeing an estate.

As Bankrate points out, as an executor, you have legal responsibilities to carry out. You might overlook important legal steps if you rush the process. At best, you could delay the probate process a little. However, at worst you could be held personally liable if the missteps are severe enough. If anything should happen to the assets of the estate or if there is mismanagement of the estate, it could give the heirs cause to challenge the executor’s fitness in court.

Instead of worrying about finishing the asset distribution quickly, an executor should prepare for a possible lengthy tenure if the probate process should drag out. Fortunately, keeping the records of the estate organized can help prevent unnecessary delays. Additionally, an executor should consider hiring a qualified probate attorney to provide counsel on legal matters and to prevent probate steps from being overlooked.

It is tempting for an executor to want to pay out the assets to heirs as quickly as possible, particularly if there is disharmony among the heirs. Some executors have to deal with arguments among heirs, which can slow down probate. Sometimes an attorney can successfully mediate the matter, while in other instances a judge may need to step in. In any case, the executor should keep the assets secure until the matter is resolved.

Because legal matters concerning probate can vary widely, this article should not be taken as legal advice. It is only intended to educate New York residents on the subject of probate.

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