Probate administration is a task that generally falls to the executor of the estate. It basically means that the executor has to file the will with the local probate court, collect the assets of the deceased, pay off any debts that he or she had (including funeral expenses), and then distribute the remaining assets to the heirs listed in the will. It sounds easy enough, but there are a lot of small details that have to be handled. Sometimes the process becomes overwhelming for the executor and everything grinds to a halt. If you're one of the heirs that's impatiently waiting for your share of the estate, what can you do?
1.) Consider offering to help.
Unless you have any reason to believe that the executor is looting the estate or trying to defraud anyone, the first step you might want to take is to simply offer to help. Most of the time, the executor of someone's will was chosen because he or she was close to the deceased and could be trusted to follow the deceased's wishes.
But that also has a drawback: the executor might have some strong emotions at play that are making it hard for him or her to do a lot of the not-so-little jobs that have to be done to settle an estate:
- Cleaning out the home and throwing out any trash or odds and ends
- Setting aside personal items that are bequeathed to individual heirs
- Having potentially valuable items appraised in order to either arrange for their sale or a fair distribution
- Having the house (if there is one) cleaned and appraised
- Listing the house for sale if it is to be sold so that the equity is divided
Any or all of these actions can be physically and emotionally demanding of the executor. He or she may be having a hard time stepping back and seeing the life's collection of things that belonged to his or her parent, sibling, favorite aunt or friend reduced to distribution piles and dollar signs. Offering to help might take a burden off the executor's back and allow the estate to move along more quickly.
2. Consider asking the executor to hire an attorney.
The paperwork that goes along with executing an estate can be complicated and could intimidate someone who is unfamiliar with legal terms. The executor might not be dragging his or her heels—he or she could just be genuinely confused about what steps need to be taken to get (and keep) things in motion.
If you hire an estate attorney, he or she can go through the steps either with or for the executor, relieving him or her of most of the burden. The attorney will make sure that the estate taxes get paid on time and that the estate doesn't remain open any longer than necessary. To learn more, contact a professional like Wayne E Janssen Atty.