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How executors can protect themselves

Many people in New York may feel honored when they find out that they've been asked to be the executor of a will. Unfortunately, some executors find themselves in legal trouble after making mistakes while attempting to manage an estate.

Some legal experts point out that many will executors are not legal professionals and have little or no experience in managing an estate or trust administration. There have been cases in which executors have been sued by heirs, and if the court decides that an executor has in fact made a mistake in handling the estate, the executor may be personally liable for court costs and any damages. This can cause havoc on the executor's personal finances.

Executors can protect themselves against lawsuits by taking some basic steps. The first would be to keep extremely careful records of all activities surrounding the disposal of the estate. Executors should keep records of conversations that they've had with heirs and keep all receipts, contracts, and other documentation that have been a part of estate management.

Another thing that executors can do is open a separate bank account for estate transactions. This not only demonstrates the executor's integrity, but it also makes bookkeeping much easier. Finally, executors should ensure that they notify all creditors and heirs as soon as possible after someone dies. This allows everyone who has a claim against the estate to make it in a timely fashion.

Executors who are unsure of their role in handling an estate may benefit from speaking with an attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the will and provide the executor with support and advice regarding his or her responsibilities.

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