We know that eventually the day is going to come when we have to bid our final goodbyes to a parent. With the goodbye comes the duty of concluding your parent's financial affairs.
While you were honored that your father named you executor to his will, you're starting to wonder if you are truly up to the task.
Managing the final affairs of a parent can be a very complicated and difficult task. Perhaps the will hasn't been updated recently to reflect the inclusion of new assets. Maybe the will does not state your father's wishes clearly. Or perhaps you're worried that acting as executor will be too time consuming and complex.
Before you commit to the role of executor, there are a few key things you should know before moving forward.
Be sure you have the time
Closing out a person's estate can be a very long process. Sometimes it can take a year or more to conclude a deceased person's financial affairs.
You will have to deal with paperwork, filing tax returns for the estate and the final personal return for your father. If the estate is outside of Maryland, you may have to make multiple out-of-state trips to consult with legal and financial professionals.
There will be constant phone calls, trips to the probate court, and lines at the post-office when you have to mail legal documents.
Even the process of dividing the assets among all the named beneficiaries can be a very time consuming process. Be sure you have the time and patience to see the conclusion of the estate all the way to the end.
Maintain your patience
As mentioned above, the estate process is slow and complicated. It also seems very redundant sometimes. You will be dealing with many different people, with a range of personalities, that seem to be asking for the same information.
You will also feel like your siblings and other beneficiaries are hounding you that all want to know what's going on with the process and when they're going to get their inheritance.
Stay calm and collected and treat each person with patience. They may not understand the level of responsibility you have taken on, so sending you daily emails checking on the progress may seem perfectly reasonable in their eyes.
Know the rules
Maryland has specific laws regarding the responsibilities of an executor that include timelines for when certain documents must be filed as well as the performance of other duties.
This is where an attorney can benefit you. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance in maneuvering through the probate court and help you stay on track in closing out the estate.