As executor of an estate, you have a lot of responsibilities. You have to secure the property of the deceased and communicate with all of their family members. You need to file paperwork with the probate courts and eventually distribute property to the various heirs mentioned in the estate plan or last will.
Before anything goes out to the family members of the deceased, you will first need to pay all of their obligations. Not only do you need to make sure you pay taxes, but you also have to pay their debts. How long do you have to wait for creditors to alert you about debts before you can start distributing property?
It may be months before the issue is resolved
Once the courts appoint an executor, the executor has 120 days to put together a list of all assets from the deceased. They may contact creditors directly and by publishing a notice in the newspaper.
The value of the estate determines how long a creditor has to make a claim. If the estate is worth less than $300,000, they only have 60 days to file a claim with the courts. If the estate is worth more than $300,000, they can file a claim for up to 90 days. Once a claim is filed, it naturally has to be validated by the court before it can be paid. That could easily mean that you need to wait more than six months or even longer before you start to distribute the property to family members and heirs.
While these delays may frustrate some of the beneficiaries, following the rules protect you. The probate process helps minimize the risks you take on as the executor of the estate, so following those rules is in your best interest.