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Financial liability for probate errors could fall to the executor

When emotions are running high, it can be difficult for anyone to make important decisions. However, after the passing of a loved one, you may be put in charge of handling his or her final affairs. You may want some time to yourself to grieve, but starting the probate process is an important task that needs to occur soon after a loved one's passing.

Whether you anticipated taking on the role of executor or not, you now face the numerous responsibilities associated with this position. You may not necessarily look forward to having to close your loved one's estate, but still, you will need to complete the process.

What should you watch out for?

Unfortunately, ample opportunity exists for mistakes to occur during the probate process. If you make a mistake that has negative repercussions for the estate, you could end up financially liable for fixing that mistake. For instance, if your loved one died with outstanding credit balances, you have the obligation of repaying the necessary creditors. However, the estate may not have to pay back every creditor, and certain creditors should receive payment before others. If you pay the wrong creditors, the estate may not have enough funds to cover the rest.

If priority creditors still need payment because you paid other creditors unnecessarily, you may have to use your personal funds to cover those balances. The same liability could fall on your shoulders if you distribute estate assets too soon, even if a person is named as a beneficiary. Property distribution takes place at the end of the process. To avoid complications, you may want to make sure that you have the right information before taking any step in the probate process.

Estate details play a role

The complexity of the estate will have an impact on how complex the probate process will be. If your loved one had many beneficiaries, a number of complex assets, property in other states or similar details, you could be in for a long and difficult journey to close the estate. However, before you begin to regret the decision to accept the role of executor, you may want to remember that you do not have to try to figure out everything on your own.

North Carolina probate attorneys are available to help individuals in your position settle their loved ones' remaining affairs as smoothly as possible. As you work through your loved one's case, you may want to reach out to such a professional for assistance.

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