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Managing an estate as executor: a few things to consider

"[L]engthy, laborious and complex."

That is how we termed the duties of many estate executors in a recent blog post focused on that important role.

Indeed, we noted in our October 13 blog entry that "many executors find that what they thought would be a relatively quick and painless process is, well, not."

That reality might reasonably spur many of them to seek a team approach to estate-related duties, says one contributor to a recent Forbes piece. That article spotlights mistakes that commonly occur and can be sidestepped during an estate's final accounting and closing.

Candidly, many executors underestimate the rigors that can attach to an estate's proper management following the passing of a planner who has selected them to steer the estate to a successful closing.

The Forbes commentator points to several specific minefields that can be prominent for a given executor.

Here's one: premature distributions to heirs and other parties.

That is a distinct and sometimes colossal problem for the simple reason that creditors and tax authorities might step forward after estate funds/assets have been fully parceled out. If they do, notes the Forbes article, an executor will personally be on the hook for estate liabilities.

And here's another concern: an executor can run into liability problems in the event he or she fails to appropriately align an estate's securities and other assets with market realities when the estate is going through probate and en route to being closed.

There are of course many additional requirements and concerns that loom large for an executor trying to adequately carry out his or her professional role. Those range widely from properly publicizing the estate (creditors have a legal right of notice) to legally closing out the estate to cut off further claims or potential liability.

An experienced estate planning attorney can provide on-point guidance and advocacy to help an executor fully succeed in his or her important role.

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