Probate is the court-supervised process of a distributing a deceased person’s property and money. Due to the time and costs involved, one should strive avoid it. However, for a variety of reasons, that is not always possible. What, then, can the Personal Representative do to make it easier? Here are three tips:
Follow Orders of the Probate Court
Personal Representatives have a fiduciary duty. This means the law requires them to act in the best interests of the estate. During a typical probate case, the court will enter a variety of orders – from authorizing the sale of property to decreeing distribution. The Personal Representative should strictly comply with all court orders.
Communicate with Family During Probate
Often, lack of communication is the biggest source of friction between the Personal Representative and other family members. Throughout a probate case, the law mandates notices to heirs and beneficiaries under the Last Will and Testament. Yet, the Personal Representative should go a step further and inform the parties even when formal notice is unnecessary. I advocate a family meeting at outset to help everyone get on the same page.
Keep Track of Probate Expenses
The Personal Representative usually incurs expenses and receives income. It is important that he or she keep track of receipts and disbursements as they occur. Before being discharged, the Personal Representative must file an accounting. If the Personal Representative does not keep accurate and timely records, there could be a delay in closing the estate.
In a time of grief, probate is the last thing anybody wants to endure. But the Personal Representative can facilitate a less burdensome experience by following court orders, communicating with family and keeping track of expenses. One more thing: Oklahoma probate laws are complex and highly technical. While some are inclined to represent themselves, I highly recommend employing competent counsel. For more on the duties of a Personal Representative, click here.