It is usually considered an honor to be asked to assume the role of the executor of an estate for a relative or friend. Still, the challenges of the position, particularly those of more complex estate situations, can sometimes overwhelm an executor. In such circumstances, the services of an experienced attorney can provide excellent support.
For many executors (or personal representatives, as they are also known), the task does not appear formidable until after the friend or relative has died. As the nominated personal representative closes out the deceased person’s financial affairs, the responsibility’s demand for time, patience and organizational skills become all too evident for even highly resourceful would-be executors.
An executor may find that hiring a lawyer would be the most prudent move in a variety of circumstances, especially when the deceased individual has an array of different property types or major tax liabilities and when the potential for disputes among inheritors looms large.
Without legal support, executors must apprise themselves of the specific laws regarding their responsibilities in their individual states as well as of the timeframe allotted for performing their duties (which include but are not limited to paying funeral expenses, publishing death notices and filing estate tax returns).
And whenever probate, which will be determined by the size of the estate, enters the scenario, executors busy with their own lives and short on legal background will often find their task impossibly daunting.
Executors have a fiduciary obligation to follow the law strictly, and they are liable for the proper handling of their assigned estate. As such, the decision to turn to an attorney to manage an estate is likely to save time and potential legal pitfalls over the course of the estate-closing process, even if it may seem costlier in the short term.