A loved one’s death often sends a family into turmoil, especially if it was unexpected. Final arrangements, contacting relatives and moving through the grief process is difficult enough, but if your loved one or an Arizona court taps you to be the executor of the estate, you may have an extra burden to bear.
Hopefully, you and your loved one discussed the matter before the tragic event, and you have had the chance to prepare for the task ahead of you. If this is not the case, you may wish to know what you are up against so you can decide if you have the time and temperament to do the job adequately.
Time is not on your side
The first thing to ask yourself is whether your personal life can take a back seat for the next few months while you deal with the important matters involved in closing someone’s estate. If you and your loved one have already had conversations about the condition of the estate, you may find there is little more to do except to secure the assets and wait out probate.
However, if your loved one had no will or left you with an estate in disarray, consider if you can logistically invest time to locate, inventory and value the assets, pay off any debts or taxes, as well as track down potential heirs.
Other factors to consider may include the following:
- Are you organized enough to keep track of assets and documentation?
- Can you meet deadlines?
- Do you have a shrewd financial sense, especially regarding taxes and creditors?
- Are you privy to the financial life of the deceased?
- Can you locate important information, such as attorney names, passwords, financial accounts and heirs’ contact information?
- Are you willing to handle any disputes or disagreements among them?
- Are you willing to take on the risk of legal liability if things go wrong?
While all of this may seem intimidating, in many cases, probate goes relatively smoothly, especially if the estate is simple. However, even with the simplest estate, executors find that having assistance relieves them of some of the stress of administering an estate, especially if they are still going through the grieving process.
You may be able to answer yes to all of the above questions, but the benefits of legal guidance cannot be underestimated. Seeking advice from an attorney may allow you to accept the honor of being an estate executor with confidence.