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Things You Should NOT Do While Handling An Estate

Florida attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is a 2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyer in Trusts and Estates Litigation.

What You Should NOT Do When Someone Dies

In this video, Reed and the Bloodworth Law Trust and Estate Litigation and Estate Planning team share a list of things that you should NOT do when someone dies.

Here is a list of No-Nos:

#1 Don’t empty accounts

Do not empty or use money in the bank accounts of a decedent.

An example is a case that ended up in litigation. A client had good intentions when they made a transfer from a decedent’s account to pay for something the person felt was legitimate. However, a judge didn’t see it that way. The client had to repay all the money.

#2 Don’t pay creditors

Don’t pay creditors because you think you have to. There is a legal process for handling creditors who must file a claim before getting paid. The amount paid to each creditor may have to be decided by the court if there is not enough money to cover all debts.

For example, if a decedent owes $10,000 to creditors, but has only $5,000, you can’t choose which creditor gets what amount. It has to be divided proportionately among all creditors by the court.

#3 Don’t make decisions

Don’t take it upon yourself to become the decision-maker. You’re granted a lot of power when appointed as personal representative or trustee. Follow the decedent’s wishes and Florida law.

#4 Don’t make mistakes

Don’t claim ignorance if you make a mistake. You are legally accountable for errors when you sign trustee or personal representative documents.

#5 Don’t take money

Don’t take money or distribute funds outside the decedent’s directions. Most errors have to do with this.

#6 Don’t handout assets

Don’t sell or grant assets outside of what a will or trust decides. Emotions may run high but don’t give in to a request not governed by a will or trust.

#7 You’re not owed

Don’t feel you are owed more than you receive. Florida statutes govern trustee and personal representative fees.

#8 Don’t disagree

Follow all wishes of the decedent even if you disagree.

#9 Don’t stay on

Don’t feel beholden to the decedent if you are unable to execute the will or manage a trust. Instead, contact an attorney to be removed.

#10 Don’t navigate Florida law

Don’t play amateur attorney and try to navigate Florida law. Contact a skilled trust or estate lawyer if you wish to resign, or if you suspect foul play.

These are a few of the things that you should NOT do when someone dies.

Attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law in Orlando and Winter Haven and handles trust and estate litigation, and estate planning for clients across Florida.

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