Probate proceedings involve the settling of a deceased person's estate. As you can probably imagine, this process is not a simple one. If your loved one named you as executor of the estate, you will have a great deal of work cut out for you when going through the proceedings.
Hopefully, your loved one asked your permission to appoint you to this role, and you have taken the time to explore your duties, at least minimally. Of course, you may still have a long way to go in relation to understanding your role when the time comes to take over.
Take the appropriate time
Many people want the probate process to end quickly, and you may even face pressure from other parties who want you to speed up the process so they can receive their inheritances or for other reasons. Unfortunately, this type of pressure may only add to the stress of your role. However, trying to rush through the process may only open you and the estate up to mistakes, and probate mistakes can lead to serious complications that may only further delay completion.
Additionally, if you choose to distribute assets early to make someone else happy or try to skip steps to try and speed the process along, you could wind up liable for any expenses that did not get paid or other issues that arise.
Obtain necessary documents
Soon after your loved one's death, you will need to obtain the death certificate and determine how many copies you will need. Banks, the Social Security Administration, insurance companies and other entities may all need copies of the certificate in order to close your loved one's accounts. Remember, you may have to pay back any benefits payments received after your loved one's death if you do not close those accounts in time.
You will also need to locate your loved one's will. Hopefully, he or she will have informed you where the document is stored, or someone else will know where you can find it. You will need this document to get the probate process underway.
Enlist professional help
Because probate is a complex process, you may find it helpful to gain professional assistance throughout the proceedings. You do not have to struggle to complete probate on your own as financial advisors and legal professionals can provide you with useful insight and guidance. Utilizing local California legal resources may allow you to understand how state laws will play into the process.