Someone who steps into the role of a trustee, as well as those who agree to handle probate proceedings for someone who recently died serve in a fiduciary role. Fiduciaries have a very high duty of obligation to other parties. When it comes to trust and estate administration, a fiduciary typically needs to put the interests of beneficiaries ahead of their own interests.
Even fiduciaries who carefully and competently fulfill their roles may find themselves facing challenges that could remove them from their position and diminish valuable estate resources. Fiduciaries can take two steps below to diminish the likelihood of litigation stemming from such challenges.
1. Embracing transparency
Proactive communication is crucial to the timely and effective resolution of estate matters. The representative of an estate will often need to communicate directly with creditors and beneficiaries about the estate planning documents and the timeline for probate proceedings. Honest and timely communication can assuage concerns about how long the process takes and help people understand what to expect so that they don’t bring claims out of disappointment.
2. Maintaining thorough records
From the notice letters sent to creditors and the funds used to pay off account balances to the distribution of personal resources from the decedent’s home, there will be many types of records that the representative of the estate will need to maintain. Receipts, copies of invoices and even letters submitted to beneficiaries and other interested parties can all help demonstrate that a fiduciary has fulfilled their obligations and show exactly how they have made use of the state resources.
Carefully managing probate responsibilities, seeking legal guidance and maintaining thorough records can help protect fiduciaries from the risk of litigation during probate or trust administration.