There are dozens of steps necessary to properly manage an estate, and some of them will be repetitive. You will have to contact every creditor and utility company and provide them with documentation. You will have to inventory every physical and financial asset held by the deceased and either liquidate them to repay creditors or distribute assets among beneficiaries or hand out the property to specific people.
With so many obligations and steps, it is easy to get careless in how you handle documentation. As an executor, you are in a vulnerable position to both claims on the estate by creditors and beneficiaries. Keeping thorough records helps protect you and limits the liability you incur by serving as executor.
Paperwork can show that you have taken all necessary steps
Records about your communication with mortgage and utilities companies and paperwork from the probate courts can help you if beneficiaries from the estate try to challenge your service.
If people claim that you have not done your job or have done it poorly, the records that you maintain will show that you have followed all necessary steps and acted in the best interest of the estate at every turn.
Make sure you document physical property distributed to heirs
You probably know that you need to keep receipts when you pay off the balance of a credit card or medical account, but have you thought about how you will prove that you gave the testator’s daughter their collection of jewelry?
In addition to completing an inventory that lists assets and their estimated value, you should also maintain receipt records confirming every asset physically given to a beneficiary of the estate. That way, if someone claims that you took something or that they didn’t receive something they should have, you will have all the information you need to effectively resolve that dispute.
More records can mean more hassle in the short-term, but good records will help you defend your actions as executor if someone ever challenges you.