Welcome back, everybody. We’re here with Rethink Your Legacy and this is the first show online. Welcome, I’m glad you’re here. The show has been going for over two and a half years now and this is our first show. We’re moving to a platform where I can see you now. I know. So you might be listening to this in our podcast and that’s totally cool. You won’t be able to get it. If you want to get it, you have to jump over to the YouTube Channel – Youtube.com/keystone law firm.
I’ve got a bit of a short show today. Really what I think today when I want to focus on is some of the issues that are just exploding in our firm, not really our firm’s issues, there are issues that people are dealing with and I want you guys to know for those who are faced with something like this. So this is something that comes up after somebody has passed away.
Can I Deny Being An Executor Or Trustee?
And you are the unlucky recipient of being designated as the executor or the trustee and you’re gonna carry out the job. There’s a ton of legal obligations and duties. The biggest thing I want you to know in that position is that if you accept the job, you are liable. You accept the job, you’re liable. You can’t get around it. So before you accept the job, understand what you’re accepting responsibility for.
I guess before you even get to that, you don’t have to accept the job. Just because you’ve been nominated, it doesn’t mean you have to accept the job. You can decline. The document will either say – if you decline here’s the next person or if it doesn’t say that it’ll say if you decline and there’s nobody named, usually it will say something like, then the court can appoint someone. And that’s fine. Then you just kind of throw everything at the court and say I don’t want this job and the court will push somebody into that position, probably a professional. So you don’t have to take it. But if you do, you can be deemed to have accepted it, just because you started doing some of the things. You start collecting bank accounts, you start going and securing the house. You start passing stuff out, that means you accepted the job. So be very, very careful.
What Happens If I Make Mistakes As A Trustee Or Executor?
Okay, what happens if you do something wrong? This is what happens. Well, we got a gal who accepted the job as trustee, and unfortunately, she went and got advice from a lawyer who doesn’t do very much trust administration. That’s what you’re looking for, you’re looking for a lawyer that does trust administration. Different than a probate lawyer, different than an estate planning lawyer, different than a business lawyer, different than a tax lawyer. You want someone who’s administered a trust after someone’s passed away, and they’ve done it a bunch. So anyway, she went to someone and got bad advice, and now, she’s in a world of hurt because she didn’t do things the right way. There are very specific things – you have to send out, certain notices, certain amount of information, [expression]. Not going to try to go through all those details with you today.
Today, I want to go through – if you’re the executor of an estate, okay, they didn’t have a trust and something is going through probate and you’re the executor. In Arizona, we also call that the personal representative. What are your duties? I am gonna cover a few of the big ones. And make sure you know what they are. I’m going to give you guys resources. You can always watch this recording. We’re also gonna be providing the transcript of this. Yes, you can read it on our website so you have tons of facts to this. If you have questions about what to do, just call, click in here, schedule your first free appointment, and don’t, you know, don’t step in a big pile of mess or make something worse just because you were, you didn’t know. So, I want to show you guys. See, look at this, I can put on the screen and actually show you. It’s pretty cool.
Personal Representative Duties
The biggest one is that you are a fiduciary. You need to know that you’re a fiduciary because that is the general rule that governs everything when you’re acting in that capacity. So think about it, think about it this way – a fiduciary, the legal rule is that you have to put their interests, their best interest ahead of your own.
So it’s like being a parent in a lot of ways. You know, I’ve got four kids. What are they, eleven to fifteen, now? Yeah. Seems like every day is – what’s in their best interest, right? No. Then you’re raising spoiled kids. So but you know as a parent, especially when they’re young. You don’t get to sleep, you are using everything you have to make sure they are alive. And that’s what we do as parents. So as a fiduciary, you’re kind of in that same role. So think of it in that way. As an executor, as a personal representative, the other beneficiaries are who you have to worry about. In addition, you have to worry about the creditors because guess who gets paid first? Yeah, the creditors.
We had a gal who, it was her and her brother, her dad passed away and this was years ago. They got all the way to where distributions were made, ended up being, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars. They sold the house, sold everything, and distributions were made and she came to us when she got this nasty-gram from a law firm that said, ‘Hey don’t spend any of that money. There’s a creditor out here that’s owed about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. If you spend it, we’re coming after you personally because you need to give this money back. And if you don’t, we’re coming after your house. We’re coming after your retirement, coming after your savings. We’re coming after everything. They were literally threatening to go after and destroy her own personal financial life. And they can do that because creditors are first.
Your duty as an executor is to take care of creditors first, and then the beneficiaries. So all of them are in one category. You’re out here in the other category, you’re legal obligation is to make sure they get what they’re entitled to. And if you screw it up, guess who they get to come after? They get to come after YOU.
When you work with a lawyer who does a lot of this work and can guide you through that process – that’s the advantage is if the lawyer told you to pay this and that and that, and you do. And then later somebody comes after you, you can just throw them at the Lord and say, ‘You guys told me, you deal with it,’ and then we have to deal with it. Obviously, we do this a lot, so we don’t make that mistake. But that’s what you need to do. We had another one, a [gal], who had a very, very simple, simple situation. Her sister passed away years, and years ago. And she did the probate on her own, like the form you’re looking at, it’s on the court’s website. It’s one of the court’s forms. You can go get it. So she got the court’s forms. She did the thing with probate. She followed the instructions as best she can. She’s a smart lady. I won’t tell you what business she’s on but she’s a professional, like, you would be impressed.
Thought she was all done. Her sister had like 40 grand or something like that, she had to do the paperwork to be able to get and she gets it and goes on with her life. Just, you know, she’s done. She lives in another state. She goes on with her life. This all happened in Arizona and then we get a call from her saying, ‘Oh my gosh, her long lost ex-husband has hired a lawyer and is now suing me for money from her estate.’ What? That doesn’t make sense. So we dig in, I start looking through everything she did. And oh whoops, lo and behold. She forgot one little step at the beginning that would have triggered a statute of limitations against him, so that he couldn’t do that. But she didn’t do that.
So, here we are years and years, and years later, she’s paying out of her own pocket to us to defend her to deal with that stupid lawyer who took his case. But he could end up resolving it, getting them to go away with a bunch of money out of her own pocket. That’s not what her sister wanted her to have. Her sister didn’t want to have that mess at all but it just happened because she didn’t do everything exactly correct when she was going through the probate process on her own. So don’t dabble in this. You got to be really careful, read the instructions very, very carefully.
We got to provide notices, notice to creditors, right? It’s a big one. You got to be very comfortable giving legal notice and how that works. In the newspaper, in the legal section directly to creditors, to unknown creditors. How do you do that, Francisco? It’s on the instructions if you want to figure it out just don’t screw it up. And then when you get to the end you know you’re the one who’s going to be deciding who gets what out of the estate. If you’re the personal representative, you see all the things I’m skipping, right? Distribute the remaining assets – that’s the fun part. Everybody thinks that should come first. Nope, it comes last, basically. But if you’re the personal representative, it’s your job to make sure you’ve done the numbers correctly. You’ve added it up. You say, you get this much, you get this much and we’re clear.
Make sure when you figure out what you think everybody should get, they sign something agreeing to the numbers you came up with. Yeah, have them sign that off because then, at least you’re protected a little bit. If it’s grossly wrong. I don’t know how much, you know, it’s gonna be protecting you but make sure you get that signed up, alright? So if you are dealing with a death of a loved one and you’re trying to figure the stuff out and you don’t want to figure it out anymore – you just want to outsource it. That’s what we do, we’ll guide you through the process, just click below. Click here in the video to go right to a scheduling page, or you can always call the phone number. It will be up on the screen guys. All right, I told you it was a quick episode of rethink your legacy. It’s wonderful to be back here with you guys in live action motion where you can see my lovely face [laughing]. All right everybody, have a wonderful day.