Probate - The House of Money

Blog Post Image
Real Estate

12 most common mistakes an administrator or executor can make
during probate and how to avoid them.
What follows below is a list of common mistakes that can be costly if not avoided. We encourage you to
read thoroughly. It has helped many executors and administrators alike and we hope it can assist you as
well.

No outcome in mind
Beginning with the end in mind provides clarity and focus throughout the entire probate process.
Although it can be an overwhelming experience (especially if the decedent is your close relative), it does
not have to be stressful, if you have a clear reminder of and commitment to what the end goal is. 

Not educating yourself on the probate process and deciding if you need / want a lawyer
Once informed, it does make a lot of sense to talk to an attorney about the process and see what he/she thinks
might
be appropriate in your situation. You may then decide that you can handle this “pro per” meaning without a
lawyer and 
represent the estate yourself as you go through the probate process.

Relying on your attorney for EVERYTHING
You might decide to use an attorney because your case might be slightly complicated or the estate is not
in your hometown or state or you simple have no time on your hands. Your probate attorney is an
expert in his field and will be paid as such. Financial planners, CPA’s, local realtors, contractors and estate
planning firms are experts in their perspective field and can give you specialized knowledge which pays
off in both the short run and long term.

Marketing real estate too late
Do not make the mistake of waiting too long to market any real estate, if you’d like to settle the estate
as quickly as possible. Once you have been approved as the executor of the estate, you can begin
soliciting offers on the real estate. Escrow will not close until you have acquired letters testamentary.
Be sure to use a realtor that understands probate.

Securing and maintaining real estate. You are responsible
Now that you are responsible for the real estate that means you must make sure it is secured and
properly maintained. A good realtor that understands your probate
needs can also help you maintain the property by using people in his/her network.

Choosing friends over the right professionals to do a particular job
Now that you might need an attorney, realtor, tax advisors, financial planning and estate planning, you
can find yourself surrounded by well meaning friends that want to help. . This is where you must be
cautious and make sure you pick your team of professional experts that will get the job done because
this is all they do.  Again, having a realtor with probate experience that specializes in the area of your
real estate location will benefit you and ensure you get the most out of it.

Not collecting paperwork and submitting documents in a timely fashion
In the member section of our site www.usprobateservices.org you will find a diagram of the probate
timeline that mentions documents and actions taken. Depending upon your locality and process it may
vary just a little. It’d be a shame to get to the very end of the process and realize you can’t settle
because one document is missing.

Waiting too long to begin the probate process.
As time goes by taxes add up, creditors become pushier and heirs more impatient. Losing a loved one is
devastating and moving forward can at times almost seem emotionally impossible. Give yourself time to
mourn but also realize that the longer you wait the greater the demands.

Not Keeping Accurate Accounting Records
If you are not comfortable with or not used to accounting and balance sheets, it make sense to enroll a
professional such as a book keeper or CPA to help you. At the time of settling the estate all numbers
must align and make sense. If not, you might get objections from the heirs or maybe even a judge.

Not picking up mail from decedents property
This is a simple one. As soon as you can, ask that the post office forwards all mail to an address or PO
Box that you have access to. The reason being, that you may miss out on important notices and claims
from creditors and/or lenders. When mail piles up, it is a sure sign that the property is vacant.

Not keeping open communication with heirs
This goes back to the initial mistake “No outcome in mind” when you begin the process. At the outset of
probate it is crucial that all heirs are on the same page and agree that you handle the estate. 

Not knowing your options when it comes to selling real estate
Real Estate is the biggest component of the estate’s assets. Depending upon your desired outcome and
goals you should know that you have options in real estate. The basic and straight forward approach is
to list with a local realtor. . Knowing your options gives you flexibility which gives you power
in your decision.