There are plenty of reasons why someone's estate could wind up in probate court. Failing to create an estate plan or last will could be one reason, as anyone who dies intestate will likely have their estate go through probate.
However, even with an estate plan in Pompano Beach, it is possible for a family to wind up in probate court. Sometimes, the terms of the last will aren't updated, accurate or legal. Other times, members of the family may disagree about whether the last will is fair and valid. It could also be possible that there are questions about the administration of a trust.
If you have taken on the role of estate administrator or executor, finding out that you're headed to probate court could feel intimidating. The good news is that with the right documentation, you can likely protect yourself and the estate from any kind of serious consequence.
Maintain records of all of your work
Whether someone wants to challenge your role as executor or the terms of the last will, having detailed documentation about how you handled various assets can protect you. Receipts for every asset you distribute, signed by the receiving party, can prove invaluable. This is particularly important for trusts, as any violation of the terms of disbursement could cause issues in the future.
Sometimes, the challenge is about the contents of the will, not your efforts as executor or trustee. However, there could be consequences if the courts decide to change the terms of the estate plan, trust or last will. If the court chooses to change the terms of the estate, your documentation could facilitate that process.
Thorough records will make it easier for you to locate any assets you have already disbursed. It will also likely protect you from financial or legal culpability, as you are simply complying with the terms of the estate plan as written and can demonstrate that fact to the courts.
Bills and similar third-party documents can also help
Receipts help you prove where you spent the money or distributed physical assets, but bills and similar documents can help show why. They can demonstrate that disbursements were necessary but not included in the estate plan.
Documentation could be the difference between the courts validating your actions and questioning them. Maintaining all of the pertinent financial records, including for bills and accounts that you pay, may prove important for you in the future.
Serving as an executor or administrator for another person's estate can take a lot of effort. Working with an attorney who understands Florida probate law can certainly help you avoid the common pitfalls that could leave you or the estate you handle legally vulnerable.