The probate mistake that can cost an executor their money

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2022 | Estate Administration & Probate |

There are numerous risks that you take when you agree to administer the estate of someone that you love. The responsibilities that you perform as the executor of an estate could damage the relationship that you have with one of the beneficiaries.

Your responsibilities could also strain your closest relationships as you invest many hours of your time in the complex probate process. There is also a financial risk that people all too often overlook when talking about the responsibilities and stresses that come with estate administration.

If you make mistakes while fulfilling specific financial responsibilities, you could end up liable for certain debts.

When do debts become your responsibility?

Some people die without having enough property in their names to pay off all of their personal debt. You are not responsible for unpaid debts in that situation unless you were a co-signer for specific accounts. You only have to pay what the estate has the resources to handle.

Of course, you do need to make sure that you pay them in the right order. Paying lower-priority debts first when the estate has limited resources could lead to some of the creditors bringing a claim against you.

The liability comes from the improper distribution of estate assets. If you were to sell off or hand out property that belonged to the testator without first paying their creditors, those creditors could make a claim against you for the financial value of any assets you inappropriately distributed to others.

Proper guidance will minimize your risk

The best way to protect yourself will involve having legal support during estate administration. That way, you don’t have to worry about making mistakes such as failing to notify all predators or paying them off in the wrong order of priority. The estate will typically cover the costs of your legal representation, as legal assistance is one of the few expenses that will take precedence over existing debts.

If you have accepted the honor and responsibility of handling someone else’s estate, learning about your obligations and connecting with the right help will reduce the chances of a potentially expensive mistake coming back to haunt you later. Fulfilling all of your duties as the executor of an estate will take the risk out of probate proceedings.