Five Issues First Time Executors Struggle with During Probate

Are you facing the demands of administrating a probate estate for a loved one or friend? While most people discuss their wishes and desires with the person they choose to be the executor of their estate, some people are blindsided when they discover the decedent named the person as executor of the estate.

Whether you knew you were named in the will as executor or you were shocked, you now have a responsibility and a duty to ensure that the estate is probated according to Michigan probate laws. For first time executors, the weight of the duties can be overwhelming.

If you are having doubts whether you can perform the duties required to administer a probate estate, we can help. Call 888-390-4360 to learn how our probate law firm can help you with the first steps you need to take as an executor through securing assets, preparing forms, and dealing with family members and heirs.

Problems First Time Executors Encounter as They Begin the Probate Process

  • Securing and Managing Property

One of the important duties of an executor is to identify, inventory, secure, and manage assets of the decedent. Even in small estates, the executor could run into problems securing assets if heirs are attempting to take assets they believe should belong to them. Depending on the estate, an executor might be called upon to manage rental property or close and liquidate a business.

Executors owe a fiduciary duty to the estate and the heirs. Mismanagement of assets can result in personal liability. Even an honest mistake can be difficult and costly to correct. For some executors, the most prudent action is to hire a Brighton probate attorney to assist with issues related to securing and managing estate assets.

  • An Executor’s Personal Liability

As mentioned above, executors are held liable for their actions or inactions while acting as administrator for the probate estate. Missteps and errors caused by a lack of knowledge or experience can cause needless delays. In some cases, the executor can be personally liable for damages when mistakes result in losses to the estate or heirs. Hiring a Michigan probate attorney to provide guidance and legal advice during the estate process can help guard against personal liability.

  • Probate Laws and Court Requirements

The laws governing estates in Michigan can be complicated. For example, some assets pass through the estate while other assets may pass outside of the probate estate. Executors must understand the various laws governing probate matters to ensure they are taking the correct steps during the administration of the estate.

In addition, court documents and rules can quickly overwhelm an executor who does not have previous experience dealing with an estate. While an executor may not need an attorney for a small estate administration, consulting an attorney may still be a wise decision for an executor who feels overwhelmed or uncertain about his duties and responsibilities.

  • Personal and Estate Tax Returns

The estate may be required to file a federal tax return if a trust is involved or the estate earns income. Furthermore, the executor might need to file a final tax return on behalf of the decedent. In some cases, other tax reports might be necessary depending on the assets in the estate. Tax reporting questions can be very difficult to understand unless the executor is a tax professional or financial expert. Our Brighton estate attorneys can provide advice and guidance, in addition to assisting the executor in retaining a tax professional, if necessary.

  • Dealing with Family Conflict

We hope that when we die, our family will respect our wishes and they will not argue amongst themselves over inheritance. However, even when the amount in question is very small, family members can fight and cause unnecessary delays and problems for the executor and the estate. In some cases, an executor might need to communicate with each heir independent from all other heirs. Dealing with feuding family members can require the executor to spend an enormous amount of time duplicating work because family members refuse to work together to carry out the decedent’s wishes.

If an executor feels uncomfortable or is having difficulty performing his or her duties because of family conflict, the executor can retain a Michigan estate attorney to represent the executor and the estate. In extreme cases, the executor can resign to allow a neutral party to assume the duties and responsibilities of the executor.

Contact a Michigan Estate Attorney for Advice

The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry, CELA helps clients prepare for the future by offering guidance, support, and legal advice while developing an estate plan. Our estate lawyers also represent executors and provide advice and guidance for executors who need help in fulfilling the duties of an executor. Legal counsel during the probate process can help first-time executors navigate the probate process from the filing of the application through the final settlement.

If you are questioning whether you can handle the responsibilities of being an executor, we can help. Contact our office by calling 888-390-4360 or by using the contact form on our website.

Our primary office is in Brighton, but we also have office locations in Bloomfield Hills, Novi, and Livonia.

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