Being asked to be an executor of someone’s estate is a great honor because it’s a tremendous sign of respect and love that they trust you to see out their final wishes. Because of the deep trust necessary between someone and their executor, they’ll usually select a close family member, friend, or loved one. So the people who miss them the most, who grieve the hardest, must also undertake the complicated legal and financial task of settling their affairs. In a time of struggle, all this responsibility can eat away at you. Check out these tips for coping with the stress of being an executor for some simple advice on tackling this difficult situation.
Don’t Forget About Your Needs
As an executor, your job is to follow through on someone else’s will, settle their debts, and liquidate their estate. It’s a time where you can get so wrapped up in a selfless act that you forget to care for your own needs. While doing a good job is important, it’s equally vital to take the time to process your emotions, grieve, and take time for yourself when you need it. Somedays, if it seems like too much, it’s OK to temporarily delay things while you work through your emotions.
Ask for Help
Just because you were named a sole executor, it doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. Between working with lawyers, medical professionals, debt collectors, life insurance agents, funeral directors, and the occasional local government record keeper, you’ll have to wear many different hats as an executor. So there is no shame in reaching out for help when you need it. Experienced friends and family can offer free advice, but you can also reach out to an executor lawyer if you need more specific legal guidance. Especially in cases where the will ends up in probate court, you’ll need to find a professional to help you prepare the necessary documentation.
Organization Is Key
After a loved one has passed, emotions can flair so high that you can easily forget the simplest of things. If you become disorganized and lose an important document or forget a crucial step in the process, your mismanagement could get yourself and the estate into legal or financial jeopardy. So make a detailed checklist of everything you need to accomplish. Then, put that list in order of importance and time sensitivity, so you can act with swift intention as you work to settle the estate.
Also, you’ll receive a lot of essential documents throughout the process, and you don’t want to deal with the stress of losing one. So keep a detailed and organized record of every document and correspondence you have as an executor.
After exploring these tips for coping with the stress of being an executor, you have a few strategies for how you can, hopefully, make this difficult time a little bit easier on you and your family.