Four probate mistakes you’ll want to avoid

By the year 2030, all Baby Boomers will be older than 65, meaning that 1 in 5 Americans will be retirement age. This means the number of people with aging parents who need a better understanding of probate law could also increase.

When an asset comes to you through a will, it will have to go through the probate process. This can cost time and money. If you’re an executor or administrator on your parent’s estate, here are four probate mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Waiting to get started

The passing of a parent can come with seemingly insurmountable grief. It can also bring innumerable decisions during an already difficult time. You might have a tendency to take your time with things like picking up mail and paying taxes. If you stall, creditors and heirs could become combative and crabby, making matters worse. If we’re just talking about a few antiques that can be stored away or sold at a yard sale, you likely won’t need professional assistance. But if you’re dealing with real estate and other property where time is of the essence, we recommend getting the help of a realtor and probate attorney.

Lack of communication

Depending on the size of the estate, this could become a lengthy process. If there are a lot of heirs, it will be natural for some of them to get antsy. Establishing good communication up front is critical. If relationships are strained, a letter will be sufficient. It is important to let heirs know early what to expect and to keep them informed throughout the process.

Not keeping records

As more time passes, the more important the records you keep will become. There will be expenses that come with being an executor or administrator, and those expenses need to be documented and itemized. Not keeping proper records could draw out the process in court. Depending on the complexity of your situation and your ability to keep records, you may want to consider hiring a CPA.

Not knowing each state’s laws

While many states have recently enacted probate procedures aimed at making the process easier, some states still haven’t caught up. If your parent’s estate is all in one state, you’ll obviously only need to know that state’s laws. But if assets are spread across multiple states, you can’t assume the laws of your state apply to each asset. You’ll need to know – and apply – the laws of each state. This can, of course, complicate the estate. But it’s better to know in the beginning than trying to figure it out along the way.

For more information on probate law, contact the Law Office of Michael Craig.