Do-it-yourself projects can range from remodeling your home to engineering homebrew biodiesel to fixing your car to building worm-composting systems. But just because you can do something yourself, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you are named as a Personal Representative or trustee, and some of the property is in Arizona, you need to hire an experienced Arizona probate attorney.
That means, especially, something as important as probate.
Managing and settling an estate is one thing that may not be well-suited to doing it on your own. In some cases, settling an estate can be done without the assistance of an attorney. But in most situations, settling an estate can be quite complex and difficult to navigate on your own. If you make mistakes as a personal representative, you may pay more in penalties than you would pay for an attorney to help execute the will.
The two most common mistakes probate DIYers make when managing an estate are these: The failure to maintain adequate documentation, and the failure to pay taxes or creditors before distributing assets.
Unfortunately, it’s easier to make mistakes than to avoid them. Probate is a technical area of law that varies for each unique situation.
In most cases, you can’t really do it by scanning the Internet. Here are 10 tricky areas of settling an estate that an attorney can help you navigate:
- Dealing with creditors
- Sending the proper documents to interested parties
- Making sure the proper forms are filed with the court
- Locating and interpreting your estate planning documents
- Making sure you know how to properly protect the deceased person’s
- Creating an accurate inventory of probate assets
- Adequately informing necessary parties about a person’s death: bankers, insurance companies, the Social Security Administration.
- Discussing the division of assets with the heirs
- Keeping adequate records, especially if you’re being reimbursed for your
time serving as personal representative
- Making sure tax forms get filed properly
Most people have minimal knowledge of the technical legal aspects involved in
settling an estate. What may seem to be just a simple mistake could actually result in fines, lawsuits and a lot unnecessary struggle and grief during an already stressful time.
If you are serving as a personal representative, it is your duty to make sure the estate is handled correctly. You don’t have to do it yourself. Seeking qualified help is the best way from protecting yourself from mistakes and their consequences.
If you have questions about whether you need an attorney to help you settle an estate, we can help. Comment below or contact our office.