When you lose a parent, you expect to experience grief, confusion and sadness. What you don’t expect is to lose faith in the executor: the person they entrusted with their affairs.
In Pennsylvania, expect at least a year to settle an uncomplicated estate. If the executor is negligent, greedy or otherwise irresponsible, the proceedings could draw on for much longer. If you sense something going wrong, it’s important to act expeditiously.
Here are three strategies you can employ to ensure appropriate and timely handling of the will.
- Communicate. Although this seems obvious, it’s of critical importance. As executor, the weight of responsibility, along with the grief of losing a loved one, might be clouding their thought process. Offer help and support. If that doesn’t work, be open and honest about your concerns and outline your expectations.
- Document. After in person conversations with the executor, send them a summary of the conversation via email with a request for confirmation. If you have concerns about the handling of the estate, begin collecting copies of important documents such as bank statements.
- File a petition. If you feel that this person cannot properly carry out the estate, you can petition the court to have them removed of the title of executor. Depending on circumstances, the executor may appear before the court to defend their actions. If the court deems necessary, they may remove the executor and place someone else in that role.
Being the executor of a will is challenging, but so is being the beneficiary in waiting. Ideally, you can find a way to work through the challenges of the probate process and honor your parent by ensuring proper handling of the will, but if you need help, it's only a phone call away.