3 Common Mistakes Made by Executors

Being an executor is not as easy a role as one might assume. An executor has to deal with the loss of a loved one while simultaneously trying to get their will implemented and their estate distributed. The whole process involves a lot of legal leg work and documentation; so, it’s actually quite easy to make mistakes along the way.

Seeing as when you become an executor you gain legal authority to finalise a person’s affairs, it would be best to get into the role after some preparation. To help you along, we’re going to go through some of the more common mistakes that executors make.

Hopefully, this can save you some time and minimize the stress that comes with the job.

A Pile of Folders with Paperwork

Properly Probating the Will

It may be surprising, but some of the bigger mistakes are made right at the beginning.

A lot of people who might not know about court proceedings will try and turn toward a legal professional, but it’s important to know who’s help you should be enlisting. You might think the best course of action is to turn to an estate law attorney, but that’s not the correct call. You should enlist the help of a probate attorney instead.

Wills need to be proved in probate court, and while an estate attorney may be better at handling distributions of the property, they aren’t the best people to take to court to get the will testified. The right attorney can prepare the will and all supporting documents to ensure the next phase can begin smoothly.

Making Timely Payments

This mistake may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but it’s entirely possible to pay the bills too quickly. Executors usually begin getting invoices and bills on behalf of the deceased, and many would think the best course of action is to begin paying them immediately.

Instead, you should first take stock of all the bills and sort them by priority. Money owed to government bodies and tax departments should be the first ones paid off, and then you should move to lower-level bills for services and such.

Executors can be held legally responsible for being unable to make such payments on the deceased behalf. Getting rid of bigger liabilities first means you will not run out of money once the IRS comes calling.

A Man signs legal documents with a pen

Moving the Process Along

Trying to get through with your executor responsibilities as soon as possible is probably the wrong way to do things. The process of distributing an estate is quite lengthy and will take you the better part of 6 to 9 months to complete properly. Trying to rush things often results in legal liabilities that the executor can actually be sued for.

It’s ideal to take things slowly and plan a list of what needs to be done in a professional manner. If you require a specialist estate law attorney Brooklyn and estate law attorney Queens or a probate attorney in Queens, you can get in touch with us.

Your Will & Pension: What You Should Know

The will you make should ideally include details for how you would want all your assets to be settled and distributed amongst all your beneficiaries. People will add the different properties they own, the liquid money and valuables they have, and the money they expect to get to be distributed.

Most people would expect that money owed to you from your workplace would also end up in the same assets pile, but that’s not necessarily the case. The way your pension is moved around and if you’re able to pass it forward depends on a lot of different factors. Let’s have a look at what they are.

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The Type of Pension

A major factor for whether you’ll be able to pass on your pension depends on what type of pension plan you have set up. Essentially there are two major types of pension plans that can be transferred to someone else.

You have the standard “Fixed Benefit” plan, which is a company-sponsored pension. This plan is a tax-free, company-sponsored fund that’s calculated on time served with the company and how much your salary was. The other option is a “Fixed Contribution” plan that relies on employees putting a bit of their own salary in a tax-free account, and the number is matched by their employer.

Person counting money

Who can Inherit a Pension?

Unlike your other assets, it’s not as easy to just give the money you have in your pension account away to any living friend or family member through your will. Pensions often come with a lot of legal terms attached to them that dictate where the money can go. Many pension plans are for one person only and may actually be wasted if you pass away before you claim it.

If you have the sort of pension plan that would allow you to transfer it forward, you would still only be able to give it to either your spouse or child officially. You may want to review what yours allows with the help of a litigation lawyer or an estate law attorney.

Claiming your Funds

To add the funds to your will, you would need a combination of the right factors, which would include things like your company’s policies on transferring pensions, your type of pension plan, and if you’ve been working long enough to actually get the pension claim, among a few other things.

The whole process can still be quite messy and hard to figure out. Getting help from a professional from our team can make the whole process easier. With our experienced probate attorney Queens and probate attorney Brooklyn and estate law attorney in Queens, we can help with any issues that come up regarding your will.

Debt and Probate: What You Need to Know

A sample of last will and testament with a section about debt payment.

Most people have their legacies, properties, and assets on their minds when drafting their Testament and Last Will. But several other things must be considered and specified in an estate plan.

For example, specifying what happens to your outstanding debts or those of a loved one after they pass away is crucial. If you owed a loan or debt in your lifetime, your family will be responsible for paying for it, depending on your estate’s size and value and the type of the loan.

Is it important to notify creditors?

After a person passes away, their estate executor is responsible for informing the person or institution that provided the debt. While the trust doesn’t mandate that the executors notify the creditors of the debtor’s passing away, doing so will allow the creditors to come forward within a shorter period, and the payment process will be smoother. Once the creditors are notified, they are given a specified period to claim their takings against the estate. Each creditor will be paid for their part from the estate’s proceeds.

If the deceased person didn’t create an estate plan during their lifetime, the probate court then assigns an administrator, who is typically from the immediate family or a close relative. Like a trustee or an executor, an administrator appointed by the court is also authorized to pay the deceased person’s debts from the estate’s takings.

What if two persons are responsible for debt?

A sample of last will and testament with a section about debt payment.

In most mortgage cases, couples usually apply together. In this case, the surviving spouse or loan co-signer will be responsible for paying the debts. However, the probate court considers several factors before determining that the living partner should be paying for the joint debts. In some cases, selling the estate is enough to repay all the deceased’s outstanding debts, while in others, loan providers may settle on an amount lesser than the original debt.

 

A loved one’s death isn’t only emotionally turbulent, but it often also brings complicated financial and legal issues with it. An experienced and reliable probate attorney Queens or probate attorney Brooklyn can help you through each step of the process, from contesting and probating the will to removing an executor or administrator, ensuring complete protection of your rights.

If you’re looking for an experienced probate attorney in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, or other NYC areas, get in touch with the law office of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. today!

Understanding the Role and Responsibilities of an Executor of Estate in New York

As you prepare your will that details your intentions, it is essential to take time to consider who will be your executor of an estate in New York. The duties of an executor require taking care of many fiduciary tasks and functions to fully satisfy your intentions.

An executor can be any person of legal age able to carry out the required duties. You do not have to name a relative as your executor. You could name a business, your wills and estate lawyer, a business partner, or a friend. Ideally, you want to choose someone you can trust and rely on.

last will and testament with dollar

Duties of an Executor of Estate in New York

The executor you select also needs to understand their role and responsibilities to successfully carry out their duties. In general, they will be tasked with accounting for all of your assets, property, investments, financial accounts, and debts. They will also be responsible for filing your death certificate and will with the probate court in New York, called the New York Surrogate Court.

The probate process is required to ensure the will is legally binding, as well as to address any potential issues where one or more beneficiaries may attempt to contest the will. Most executors do seek assistance from a qualified probate lawyer to ensure all legal obligations are met.

Probating the will is just one duty of an executor. The executor will need to safeguard all assets until such time they are to be liquidated and/or distributed to beneficiaries. If the deceased owned a business, then the executor is required to oversee its operations.

Additionally, they will inventory and appraise all assets to establish their value. Prior to distributing the estate to the beneficiaries, the executor must satisfy all debts claimed by creditors, as well as income and estate taxes.

Furthermore, the executor should take steps to protect the interests of the beneficiaries. This could require keeping accounting records and other financial reports to show that the assets have been protected.

Executors Have to Manage Various Obligations

As you can imagine, the duties of an executor can be rather complex. They have to manage various obligations, depending on the size and complexity of the estate.

For instance, they may need to collect rental income from rental properties. They might be required to make investments to keep assets from depreciating. They could have to take over running a business, as well as related business duties like making operational decisions.

In addition, they have to maintain all physical property in its current condition. This can require performing maintenance and repairs as needed. To better manage these various obligations, executors can seek outside help from accountants, lawyers, maintenance technicians, and other professionals as needed.

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Executors May Have to Deal with Conflicts

Aside from managing the estate of the deceased and carrying out their intentions, many executors have to deal with conflicts from relatives, friends, and beneficiaries who dispute the will or disagree about how assets should be divided.

Understanding the role and responsibilities of an executor of an estate in New York is essential to select the right person. It is highly recommended you inform the person you name as executor so they can also review what duties and responsibilities they will need to perform.

For further assistance in preparing your will and selecting an executor or obtaining help with the probate process in New York, please feel free to contact Joseph A. Ledwidge PC at 718-276-6656 today!