Being named as the executor of an estate or the trustee for a trust is quite the responsibility. It will be your job to interpret and follow the last wishes of a loved one. This could include the division of assets, the allocation of physical items and even clearing out a living space.
Every step along the way should be carefully planned and fully documented to protect the executor or trustee. One of the best ways to ensure you are adequately documenting the process of estate administration is to work with an experienced estate and probate attorney.
The larger the estate or trust in your care, the greater the scrutiny from other heirs and family members. If certain people believe you’ve made a mistake or stolen from the estate, you could be facing a civil lawsuit or a challenge in probate court. Your attorney can help you with the process of estate administration to ensure you are following all California state and federal laws.
Your attorney can also ensure that you are accurately performing the requests outlined in the estate plan, trust or last will. Details matter in estate administration, so be sure to take steps to legally protect yourself!
From pricing to payments, keep proof of everything
As noted above, the bigger the estate, the greater the risk of a legal challenge. Generally, with large estates, the person who has passed will have named an executor, but sometimes the courts will appoint one during probate. Regardless of who named you, you have a legal obligation to execute the estate as written and follow the terms of the last will. That’s why it is so critical to you, as trustee or executor, to carefully document everything done on behalf of the estate.
Your attorney can help you with valuation of physical items and collections, as well as the accurate valuation of investments and real estate. Your lawyer can connect you with professionals who can provide a written cost valuation for various items, from fine art collections to purebred animals. These records can validate your claims of accurately and appropriately executing the last will on behalf of the testator.
If you are sued or the estate is legally challenged, you should have a thorough legal record of the valuation of assets as well as when and to whom you gave each item. This will protect you from claims of theft, fraud or faulty handling of the estate, trust or last will.
The help of an attorney is invaluable when handling an estate
The best way to reduce any potential probate court issues or personal liability when acting as an executor or trustee is to maintain accurate records. Working with an experienced estate and probate attorney is also key to ensuring that laws and last wishes are properly followed.