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Avoid Liability; Avoid Probate Mistakes!

More Mistakes That Alberta Executors Make During Probate

This is part II of the top ten probate mistakes that executors make. If you missed the first part of this list, this link will connect you with the first set of issues. Feel free to read these probate errors in any order as they are not in a particular order that executors make them.

6) Failing to Administer the Estate in a Timely Manner

Executors often times delay administering the estate of a deceased. Generally, most estates can be completed and paid out within a year. Undue delay can cause problems in dealing with some of the assets, missing deadlines and, most importantly, creating undue tension between the beneficiaries. There are several reasons the estate may take longer than normal to finalize. The reasons range from the executor not being emotionally ready to deal with the estate. In this case, the executor must ask themselves, if they should defer the responsibility to an alternate executor or hire a professional to deal with the estate. Another common delay is when people do not hire a lawyer and the mistakes the executor make during probate.

7) Failing to Adequately Protect Estate Assets

This is an essential aspect of an executors role in managing an estate. It is the executor’s duty to locate all assets of the deceased and make sure they are protected. This includes, but is not limited to, homes, vehicles, financial investments, businesses or corporations, etc. Not locating the assets properly and failing to ensure there is no risk of loss in value is a crucial role of an executor. For example, not having the proper insurance in place or allowing an asset to fall into disrepair can cause significant loss to the assets of the estates (and ultimately a loss to the Beneficiaries). Such a loss may open up the executor to personal liability. Meaning that an executor may be personally liable for failing to act in a way to protect the assets of the estate for the beneficiaries.

8) Incorrectly Handling Household Items and Personal Effects

Personal effects of the deceased are often times the most sentimental and arguably most important items for the beneficiaries. Sentimental items are emotionally connected items. A significant amount of litigation is commenced for emotional reasons even when the dollar amount involved does not merit the cost of a claim. The distribution of these items, however, often times are mishandled, leading to disputes between family members. To avoid probate mistakes, the executor should devise an adequate method of ensuring that all household and personal items are distributed in an even-handed, fair way. Items of significant value should be appropriately appraised and also distributed in an equitable fashion. Similarly, items of emotional value should be dealt with in a sensitive manner to avoid conflict.

9) Failing to Learn about the Probate Process Prior to Starting

Some executors fail to educate themselves on the tasks and duties involved in administering an estate. Being an Executor is a large task with lots of responsibilities. Despite this, many Executors think they are able to probate an Estate without seeking legal help of any kind. This typically results in errors, mishandling of Estate assets and delays in the Estate distribution. Mistakes are made even in the Probate application itself. All such mistakes likely could be avoided by seeking out the help of a Wills and Estates lawyer.

10) Failing to Maintain Accurate Records

Residuary beneficiaries are entitled to an accounting of the administration of the estate at regular intervals. This is an aspect of estate administration that you should take seriously. The testator’s bank account is not the executor’s bank account to use in any personal way. However, executors sometimes fail or forget to provide evidence for any or some of the dealings they do with estate money. This sets up the scenario for confrontations among family members over estate money. By keeping proper records, beneficiaries will be less suspicious and, if there is an issue raised, you will have proper documentation to protect you and the estate.

Getting The Help You Need To Avoid Probate Mistakes

It is not an easy job being an executor of a deceased’s Estate. At Kahane Law Office, we understand the challenges of such a task. We also understand that there are emotional and familial things that you have to deal with. Don’t fall prey to any of these pitfalls and leave yourself open to personal liability. Call Kahane Law Office today to arrange for a consultation. You can reach us now at 403-225-8810 in Calgary or email us directly here today to contact us.

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