One of the first things that you need to do when you're the executor for the estate of someone who has passed away is to get your hands on a copy of the person's will. Sometimes, you'll already have a copy of it. In other cases, you may need to retrieve it from the individual's attorney. While there will be a lot of tasks for you to oversee in the very near future, having your estate planning lawyer assess the validity of the will should be a priority on your to-do list. Here are some reasons that this step is necessary.
It Will Confirm The Funeral Wishes
One of your earliest responsibilities in dealing with the estate of the person who has died is to organize the funeral. You don't want to make a misstep here, given the importance of the occasion, so you'll want to ensure that the will is valid. This means that it was written by the person who was of sound mind at the time, and was witnessed by another individual of sound mind — often, this will be the person's attorney. For example, if there were to be an issue with the validity of the will, you may want to re-evaluate the person's wishes for the funeral — likely by discussing them with the immediate family.
It Will Prevent Asset Distribution Errors
As the executor of the estate, one of the biggest responsibilities that you have is distributing the person's assets. This can be a process that can get contentious, depending on the contents of the will and the relationships between the deceased person and his or her family. You want an attorney to validate the will before you take any steps in this regard. For example, if you were to give a possession to a person listed in the will, only to later learn that there is an issue with the validity of the will, you might face the unpleasant and difficult task of trying to recover this item.
It Will Prevent Financial Errors
You'll also be in control of the estate's finances, which is an important job. While there are some duties that you'll need to perform that don't relate to the will — for example, taking care of outstanding bills — you need to ensure that the will is valid before you begin to use the estate's funds for larger expenses. For example, if the will specifies that the estate owes money to a creditor, you'll want to confirm that this is actually the case before you move forward.