A loved one dies and you are approached about administering the settlement of the estate. On one level, you feel humbled. Such a request means you’re considered trustworthy. On another, you may feel over your head before you start. Before anyone in Arkansas says yes to such a request, some questions deserve answers.

Probate and estate administration can be complicated because of the intricate legal steps required. In addition, depending on the nearness of the deceased, you may be wracked with grief. No one should make important decisions when in emotional upheaval. Having a skilled legal advisor at your side can help. So consider the following:

  • What’s the time commitment? Closing out an estate can take years. It will certainly require a good deal of legwork tracking down documents, filling out paperwork and waiting in lines as you make trips to the courthouse. Will this task fit into your schedule?
  • What skills are needed? Organization doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If it’s difficult for you, estate administration can leave you feeling like your slogging through a thick jungle. If you don’t handle your own finances well, you might not be equipped to be an executor.
  • Do I have the right attitude? Can you remain calm in the face of cranky people? Settling an estate often ruffles feathers. Tensions rise. Experts agree a commitment to transparency in administrative dealings minimizes friction, even if it doesn’t eliminate it.
  • Can I afford to do it? If the deceased lived in another state, travel may be required. Costs can become prohibitive if you have to make several trips. Can the estate pay for your expenses and your time? How will accepting compensation sit with other heirs?

If you answer these questions and feel prepared, you are probably good to go. But if you have any doubts, consider consulting with a skilled attorney before taking on the responsibility.

Source: AARP.org, “Things to Know About Being an Executor of Estate,” Carole Fleck, accessed Sept. 23, 2016