Real Time Web Analytics

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How can an executor stay involved while the lawyer processes the paperwork?

Some executors or administrators of estates will hire a lawyer and ask that the lawyer take care of the entire estate from A to Z. More commonly though, executors and administrators want to be more involved than that. They want to keep costs low, keep the estate file moving along, and maintain control of the estate. Recently a reader in exactly that situation wrote to me, and I'm sharing the answer here.

"My father recently passed away and unfortunately does not have a will. I am trying to wrap my head around what exactly I need to do to get things straightened out. I've spoken to a lawyer and he has outlined what is required and I do need to give him some more information so that he can start the necessary process but if I am able to do some thing(s) myself, then by all means I am willing to tackle them."

There is a lot of opportunity for an executor (or, as in this case, an administrator) to take on tasks to keep legal costs low and to keep the estate file moving as efficiently as possible.

During the initial stage of the file, the lawyer will be gathering information to put together an inventory of assets and debts, as well as a list of beneficiaries and family members. You can supply a list of names, addresses and birth dates, and call around to family members to come up with information that might be missing.

You can also go through your father's house to find paperwork such as bank statements, investment statements, insurance policies, title deeds, property tax assessments, pink slips for vehicles, credit cards and bills of sale. All of these items contain vital information such as account numbers that will save the lawyer a lot of time. You can save even more time and money if you are able to go to the banks yourself to get updated statements (that isn't always possible for administrators, but it is for executors).

If there is a house, cabin or land to be sold or transferred to a beneficiary, you can save time and money by arranging to get appraisals. I recommend that you get at least two for each piece of property.

Once the lawyer interprets the law for you so that you know who is going to be a beneficiary under the intestacy laws of your province, you should notify them of what's going on. Once you have the grant of administration, you may wish to set up a day for everyone to get together and divide up the personal and household items.

Your lawyer may ask you whether you want to open an executor/administrator's bank account or have him run everything through his trust account. You can do it either way, but it's cheaper to do this yourself, unless there are beneficiaries who don't trust you to handle the funds. As an administrator (rather than executor) you won't be able to open the bank account until the court has issued you the letters of administration.

When it comes time to prepare an accounting to the beneficiaries, the lawyer should draft the Release documents. But you can save a lot of money if you prepare the statements yourself. Please understand though that you have to prepare a proper accounting that deals with all payments into the estate and payments out. If you prepare something inadequate or misleading and it ends up in court, you won't have saved any money or any time.

If you would like more of a step-by-step guide, pick up my book called Alberta Probate and Administration Kit. Even though the majority of the forms in it are for Alberta, there are also executor's accounting forms that can be used anywhere in Canada, and plenty of information, tips and ideas that apply to executors and administrators across the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like

Related Posts with Thumbnails