Serving as the executor or administrator of someone’s estate will mean helping handle all of their unresolved business and dealing with grieving loved ones and heirs. Perhaps your deceased loved one named you executor because they trusted your fastidious organization. Maybe they simply knew you have the integrity to follow through with their wishes.
You likely want your work as executor to live up to the expectations of your loved one. You also want to make sure you adequately fulfill your duties, as you could get held financially and legally liable for mistakes that you make during the estate administration process.
Maintaining adequate records of your work is one of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself. The records you maintain can prove what you did (or didn’t) do as executor.
Document every bill you pay and account you settle
The process of paying off final bills and closing accounts is often protracted. Businesses often require copies of estate documents and death certificates before they finalize things on their end. There are also tax filings and similar obligations you will need to fulfill, all of which take time.
With every disbursement you make from the estate’s assets, you need to collect documentation showing exactly what was done with those assets or funds. That includes records of payments to creditors, utilities and taxing authorities, as well as proof that you closed the accounts and submitted all documentation required by the company or government organization.
Get receipts for distributions to family members and heirs
The average person has hundreds of individual possessions and multiple different family members who will receive items from their estate. It doesn’t take long for things to get confusing, regardless of how organized you are.
Maintaining written documents of every distribution from the estate’s pool of assets is the only way to prove exactly what you distributed and to whom. Having family members sign documents that detail each item or asset they receive at the time they receive it is important. That way, you can show that you followed through with your obligations.
You also protect yourself from questionable claims by family members who might hope to secure a larger portion of the estate by claiming they haven’t received what they should have. In the event that anyone challenges your position or the actions you have taken, the documentation you have will protect you.