How Complex Can It Be to Deal With a Deceased Estate?

If you've been given the responsibility of handling somebody's estate following their sad demise, you may have a lot on your plate. If this person had a particularly complicated life with many assets and numerous beneficiaries, there is indeed a lot of work involved. What are some of the challenges ahead, and how can you begin to deal with this important work?

Initial Formalities

Before you can begin the work of distributing the estate, you first need to ensure that all formalities have been taken care of. The will must be present, and the death certificate must have been registered. You will also need to ensure that the departed had full capacity to sign the will in any case.

Mental Capacity

If there is any question regarding their mental capacity or whether any third parties may have been involved in the background, be aware of any legal claims. Somebody may feel that they had not been accounted for in the will or that the contents of the will were rather unusual. They may try to challenge its detail on this basis.

Latest Document

Even if there is no dispute about mental capacity, cross-check to see that the will was, indeed, the latest version.

Identifying Beneficiaries and Assets

If there are no challenges in this way, you will then need to both identify and subsequently find all the beneficiaries involved. Hopefully, they will have been clearly identified within the document so there is no confusion over who gets what.

You will then need to find all the assets. This can take some time if some of the assets are outside the state or even in another country. Overseas laws can be different, and you may have to go through additional steps to get control of that asset.

Expecting Creditors

Creditors will have a limited amount of time to make a claim against the estate, and you should make sure that you have passed that deadline before you can be clear about what's left.

What to Do When It Gets Challenging

Don't be surprised if all this work takes many months to complete. If the estate is particularly complex, the effort can certainly drag on. You may also need to get legal advice to help you make the right decisions or to deal with any disputes or claims when they arise. In this case, bring in a lawyer who has experience in dealing with deceased estates. They can certainly make your job easier and may bring everything to a conclusion more quickly.