On August 10, 2015

Although probate can be a lengthy, involved process, making mistakes during it can end up complicating it further, potentially increasing both the duration and costs of the process. For personal representatives, it can also mean that they are held personally liable for their mistakes, as they could be sued, depending on the nature of the mistake.

To help you avoid such complications and unnecessary costs, below, we will point out some common mistakes to avoid making when you are a personal representative in probate.

These Missteps Will Cost You in Colorado Probate

1 – Waiting too long to open probate for an estate

Avoiding these probate mistakes is essential to not complicating or increasing the costs of the process, a Denver estate & probate attorney explains.

Avoiding these probate mistakes is essential to not complicating or increasing the costs of the process, a Denver estate & probate attorney explains.

While there can be a lot to take care of after a loved one passes, putting off opening a probate case is not something you want to do. This is because the longer you end up waiting to open probate, the more likely it is that:

  • The taxes for an estate will increase.
  • Creditors for an estate may start piling up.
  • Beneficiaries may become more anxious and more difficult to deal with.

This can end up making probate more complex, expensive and possibly more adversarial.

2 – Inappropriately dealing with an estate’s creditors

This mistake can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Failing to properly notify creditors of the death
  • Paying fraudulent debt claims
  • Not paying legitimate debt claims
  • Paying some creditors but not others (i.e., showing bias in paying creditors).

Such missteps can lead to creditors suing an estate, placing liens against the property of an estate, etc. This will mean that, ultimately, the debt has to be resolved before property can be transferred to the beneficiaries.

3 – Failing to keep accurate, clear records for the estate

As a personal representative oversees an estate in probate, one of the necessary administrative tasks that will need to be done will be maintaining up-to-date, accurate accounting records for the estate. These records should clearly detail all of the funds coming into and going out of the estate, and they will need to be submitted to the court periodically.

Failing to keep these records up to date or at all can lead to personal representatives breaching their fiduciary duties, which can lead to them being sued and being held personally liable for this mistake.

4 – Entrusting important probate tasks to the wrong people – or trying to do everything yourself

Given that there is a lot to do in probate – and that some of these tasks are quite involved, retaining the right help will be essential to getting through probate as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

When personal representatives make the mistake of thinking they can do everything themselves – or when they trust important tasks to the wrong people (such as unqualified friends or inexperienced “professionals”), more mistakes can happen, probate can take longer, and again, the personal representative can be sued for breaching his or her fiduciary duties.

Contact a Denver Estate & Probate Attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC

When you are ready experienced help getting through probate, you can turn to a Denver estate & probate attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC.

To discuss your situation and learn more about your best options for proceeding, let’s meet for initial consultation. Schedule this meeting by calling us at (303) 741-2400 or emailing us using the contact form at the top of this page. From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village and Englewood.

Categories: Probate