Losing a loved one is already difficult enough. But if you have been named as the executor of the estate, dealing with your grief and organizing a funeral is only the beginning. You also need to administer the estate, which means going through the process of verifying the will and distributing it as appropriate. Here are five potential issues that may arise during the process of estate administration:
Identifying and locating the beneficiaries
- It would seem like identifying the beneficiaries of the estate (the people set to inherit under a will or trust) would be the easiest part of the estate administration process. Unfortunately, depending on how long it has been since the estate has been updated, you could be dealing with beneficiaries who have moved, changed their names, or even died in the interim. This means you could spend a lot of time trying to track down people with inheritances before you even get to the process of distributing the estate’s assets.
Disputing the will
- Another issue that sometimes comes up in estate administration is when someone tries to challenge the will. They might be a beneficiary who genuinely believes something is wrong with the will, or they might be an heir who believes they did not get as much as they should have received. Either way, a challenge to an estate is always a headache and one that can lead to months of litigation.
Challenges to executorship
- Along similar lines to challenging a will, a beneficiary might decide to challenge your right to administer the estate. In effect, they are accusing you of mismanaging the estate’s assets, of defrauding the estate’s beneficiaries or otherwise failing in the duties required of an executor during the process of estate administration. They may genuinely believe that you have committed some wrongdoing, or they may be trying to get better access to the estate for their own ends. Either way, this kind of challenge can be long, costly and emotionally taxing.
Administering a testamentary trust
- Some people, as either a replacement or supplement to their last will and testament, will arrange for a testamentary trust to be created on their death. If you are lucky, all the paperwork to do this will already be available and with a named trustee ready to take on the management of the trust. If you are not lucky, however, your estate administration duties may include managing this trust, which is a potentially costly and time-consuming process.
Dealing with creditors
- It is probably not a surprise to most people that creditors are rarely ready to let debts go just because the person who owed them those debts is dead. It is common for creditors to go after the estate to pay off those debts, which means you may be wrestling with debt collectors at the same time you are trying to administer the estate. In addition, even if they are not successful in collecting on their debts, defending against their efforts can require legal work that can eat into the estate, reducing the inheritances of beneficiaries.
The firm of Blodnick, Fazio & Clark is experienced in handling matters relating to estate administration and the probate process. With offices conveniently located in Garden City, Nassau County, and Babylon, Suffolk County, the firm provides high-quality legal care at reasonable prices. If you require legal assistance concerning probate, estate administration, or other estate law issues, call (516) 280-7105 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.