It can be challenging to perform the duties of an executor. This is because most executors have never held this type of role in the past. Therefore, they may be prone to making simple mistakes that can have serious ramifications on the estate and beneficiaries. One common mistake is a failure to qualify him or herself as the executor in the first place.
Assuming that the executor has properly qualified him or herself, it is important to open a separate bank account to be used for the estate. Commingling estate assets with personal assets can create confusion for both the executor and any beneficiaries. Commingling may also create legal issues for the executor, which can be avoided by creating the separate bank account for the estate. Executors should be aware that they must notify any potential heir of the estate even if he or she is not mentioned in a will or trust.
This is one part of the record keeping process that an executor must engage in. Failure to keep good records can leave an executor open to legal action during and perhaps after the estate has been settled. If taxes have not been paid or assets are distributed incorrectly, beneficiaries may not be inclined to give back what has already been distributed to them without any documentation that they have to do so.
Choosing an executor is one of the most important parts of estate planning. This person can be any adult of sound mind or any entity willing to uphold its fiduciary responsibility to the estate. An attorney may act as a trustee or executor if desired. Legal counsel may also help create estate documents or store them in a safe manner until they are needed.