It’s complicated enough to be an estate executor when everyone lives in the same place. But what if there are heirs in other states?
For instance, maybe you and your siblings all grew up in Colorado. You stayed near your parents, and so they named you the estate executor, but you have one sibling who now lives in California and another who lives in New York. What do you need to know about settling this estate?
Take your time and get it right
First and foremost, don’t rush through this. It can be complex, but it pays to take your time and get everything right. Remember that even things like communicating with the other heirs could take longer than if they were there with you, so you need to be willing to slow things down and work through the details.
Always keep copies
Make copies of all of the important documents. The other heirs may want to see some of these, such as investment statements or bank statements. Do not send the originals, and do not send the only copy you have. You need to have enough for your own records as you work through this process.
Determine the best way to communicate
Maybe it’s fastest to call the other heirs and talk to them on the phone. Maybe you’d be better off doing a group text message so that everyone can have an input and see what everyone else is saying. Maybe email is best so that it’s easier to track everything down and send large documents. Since you’re going to be communicating across time zones and over state lines, you need to know how to do so efficiently.
Find out if there are any assets elsewhere
Since your family is spread out, you need to know if all of the assets are in Colorado or if there is anything in another state that needs to be considered. In some cases, probate has to be carried out in multiple states. In other cases, property owned in a different state may be subject to different taxes than property owned in Colorado. When doing inventory, make sure that you know exactly what you’re working with.
A complex situation
It’s easy to see that this could get quite complicated, and that’s even if a dispute doesn’t arise. Make sure you are well aware of all of your legal obligations and the steps you’ll need to take.