An executor's duties are important, but they are not always easy. After all, most residents of Maryland are not familiar with some aspects of the state's legal system, particularly when it comes to probate and estate administration. In fact, there are several common mistakes executors should try to avoid making.
For example, rushing to pay the deceased's bills may cause problems. Although it is often done with the intention of promptly settling the deceased's estate, certain bills have a higher priority than others. Therefore, it is important to understand which bills should be paid first. Mistakes made in paying bills could lead to personal liability.
Another common mistake is failing to keep track of the estate's assets, such as artwork, automobiles, antiques and other pieces of tangible property. Executors are responsible for ensuring the property of the estate is kept safe, so that it can be distributed to the estate's heirs and beneficiaries appropriately. Like mistakes regarding paying bills, if an executor does not find and keep hold of all the deceased's property he or she could face personal liability.
In addition, mistakes made regarding real estate can cause serious problems. This is because real estate is a particularly complex type of asset. For example, the deceased's heirs may disagree about what to do with real estate after a loved one's death. In addition, executors may need to determine if they are allowed to fund improvements and make repairs to the real estate. These decisions can be difficult to make without the advice of a professional.
Finally, another common mistake is trying to increase the wealth of the estate through investments. Particularly if a person aims to give his or her heirs a pecuniary amount as an inheritance -- that is, an inheritance that is contingent on the value of the estate per the estate's tax return -- investments that prove to be unfruitful could negatively affect what a person stands to inherit.
These are only some common errors many executors make. If you have any doubts about how to perform your duties as an executor, you may want to consider seeking legal representation to avoid making time-consuming and potentially expensive mistakes.