Four Helpful Tips for Executors & Personal Representatives Who Are Settling an Estate

September 15, 2015 Posted In Breach of Fiduciary Duty,Estate Planning,Probate, Estate, & Trust Administration
by Colorado Estate Matters

The process of settling an estate can be long, complicated and at times, contentious. While there can be a lot to do to settle an estate in the months following the death of a loved one. It is important to  keep the following tips in mind can help those in charge, namely executors and personal representatives:

  • Properly administer estates
  • Minimize the liability they face when doing so
  • Settle estates as efficiently as possible.

Important Info for Executors & Personal Representatives

Tip 1 – Know the deadlines you will be facing.

These tips can help executors & personal representatives carry out the estate settlement process with minimal hassle, a Denver estate & probate attorney explains.

These tips can help executors & personal representatives carry out the estate settlement process with minimal hassle, a Denver estate & probate attorney explains below.

There are a lot of strict deadlines in the Colorado probate process, starting with the deadlines for notifying beneficiaries and potential creditors regarding the death. Other deadlines that are associated with settling estates include those for paying estate taxes, submitting reports to the court, etc.

Missing these deadlines can end up complicating the probate process. It may even end up putting executors or personal representatives in hot water with the court.

Tip 2 – Make sure you understand your fiduciary duties.

As an executor or personal representative, you will be considered to be a fiduciary, which means that:

  • You have some specific duties that you will have to fulfill moving forward – Specifically, your fiduciary duties will include (but aren’t limited to) dealing with all interested parties in an unbiased manner and not stealing from/compromising the assets or interests of an estate.
  • You could be sued if you do not fulfill these duties – If the court or a beneficiary or some other party believes you have not appropriately fulfilled your duties as a fiduciary, you can face breach of fiduciary lawsuits and may even be held personally liable for compensating those harmed by the breach.

Tip 3 – Be prepared for the process to take some time.

In general, settling an estate will take months (if not longer), depending on the value and complexity of the estate. This means that executors and/or personal representatives will need to be ready to deal with this process for quite some time moving forward.

For people who know they have upcoming obligations that may prevent them from carrying out their duties as an executor or personal representative, it may be worth considering if there is a better person to serve in this role.

Tip 4 – Retain an attorney and other professionals for help.

This is the single best tip to remember for those getting ready to settle an estate, as the guidance of an experienced lawyer can be invaluable in the probate process. The bottom line is that there can be a lot to do and that these tasks (some of which are involved in and of themselves) may need to be carried out simultaneously.

Knowing that executors and personal representatives can be liable for the mistakes they make, retaining a lawyer can be integral to avoiding liability while appropriately carrying out the estate administration and settlement process.  You do not have to do this alone, or spend hours reading about it online. Hiring us as your estate planning attorney can save you from making any accidental mistakes.

Contact a Denver Estate & Probate Attorney at Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd.

When you need experienced help settling an estate, you can turn to a Denver estate litigation lawyer at Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd.  To some it may be a difficult process to do on their own. This is why hiring us can help make this process easier through these difficult times.

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We can discuss your estate planning needs and different options during our consultation. To schedule this meeting, call us at (303) 713-9147 or email us using the contact form at the top of this page.

From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Englewood, Centennial, Wheat Ridge, Golden and Arvada.

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