Your loved one has passed away. Now you find out they named you as Executor of the Will. In what is already a stressful time, a million thoughts pop into your head. How long will the probate take? Am I facing any legal liability? Can I receive payment for my services? Here are the top 3 tips for Executors:
Err on the Side of Disclosure
The Oklahoma Probate Code requires the Executor to give notice of any hearings. To whom should the Executor give notice? The Executor must mail copies of the notice of hearing to all heirs-at-law as well as beneficiaries named in the Will. However, in the interest of avoiding Will contests and Estate disputes, we advise our clients to go a step further. Oftentimes, dissension during the probate process boils down to family members being kept in the dark. Therefore, we advise our client to readily disclose information about the Estate upon request.
Deal with Taxes and Creditors
Before the Executor can close an Estate, he or she must file the decedent’s final individual income tax return. In addition, Oklahoma’s probate laws require the Executor to publish a Notice to Creditors. Both of these steps are extremely important. If the Executor distributes the Estate without filing the taxes, then the Executor can be personally liable for paying them. Likewise, creditors may try to pursue the heirs individually if the Executor does not deal with their claims in probate.
Keep Track of All Expenses
The Executor must submit a final accounting to the court prior to receiving a discharge from their duties. For this reason, the Executor should document all expenditures incurred throughout the probate. What’s more, the Executor is entitled to compensation for serving in that role. The Executor’s fee is based on the size of the Estate.
In conclusion, probate is never a fun experience. Yet, by exercising full disclosure, handling taxes and creditor claims and detailing expenses, the Executor can make his or her job must easier. If you are in charge of an Estate and need help, do not hesitate to give our office a call.