Acting as an Estate Executor, or Personal Representative, is a challenging role that comes with significant responsibility. It\u2019s also an important task. While most people don\u2019t \u2018enjoy\u2019 acting as an Estate Executor, and while Executors are entitled to financial compensation in many cases, the true reward of Executorship is that you\u2019re providing a valuable service to the loved ones and family members of a deceased person during what is an otherwise difficult time. While Executorship comes with both challenges and rewards, it\u2019s important that you, as an Estate Executor, avoid the common pitfalls that can make Estate administration far more stressful than it needs to be. The easiest way for an Executor to avoid the mistakes we cover in this article is to adopt a team approach. While you\u2019ll already be \u2018one-step-ahead\u2019 if you adopt a team approach to Estate Administration, it\u2019s helpful to be able to recognize the mistakes that Alberta Estate Executors commonly make, so that you\u2019re able to avoid them. \t Mistake #1: Trying to do Everything on Your Own One of the biggest mistakes that we see Executors make, is trying to do everything on their own. At the risk of \u2018beating a dead horse\u2019, it\u2019s imperative that you take a team approach to Executorship. Too often, Executors try to complete the Estate administration process on their own. While there are many tasks during the Estate administration process that an Executor can, and should, complete, there are other tasks that an Executor can delegate to their \u2018teammates\u2019. By trying to do too much on their own, an Executor risks legal liability, frustrated beneficiaries, and a lengthened and stressful Estate administration process. \t Mistake #2: Improper or Inadequate Record-Keeping Executors often fail to keep proper financial records. With the potential for lawsuits and legal claims against Estates and their Executors, it\u2019s essential that an Executor keep detailed financial records. A thorough Executor will keep official invoices, transaction receipts, bank statements, and other documentation in an orderly and secure filing system. They may also choose to back up formal financial and other records with handwritten or typed details about the transactions shown on the \u2018official\u2019 statements. \t Mistake #3: Failing to Communicate with Estate Beneficiaries Communication is key to effective Estate administration. Strained relationships between Executors and beneficiaries can lead to conflict, stress, and even lawsuits against the Executor. One of the biggest mistakes an Executor can make is failing to adequately communicate with beneficiaries. While beneficiaries shouldn\u2019t interfere with your Executorship role, candid and regular communication with Estate beneficiaries, providing them with timelines and \u2018next steps\u2019 in the Estate administration process, and providing an adequate accounting of the Estate funds you handle will make your life much easier. \t Mistake #4: Not Hiring a Probate Lawyer While hiring a lawyer can be expensive, one of the most common mistakes that Executors make is going through probate without the assistance of a qualified probate lawyer. While some Executors avoid hiring a probate lawyer to save money, the cost savings that they ultimately realize may be far outweighed by the hassle, stress, and potential legal liability that they may open themselves up to if they fail to fulfill their legal obligations to the Estate. A knowledgeable probate lawyer will reduce your workload, provide you with valuable legal advice, and ensure that you don\u2019t overlook any of your obligations to the Estate. If you\u2019re on the fence about hiring a probate lawyer, call a few different firms in your area to get an idea of their cost structure and the services that they offer\u2014you may find that legal fees are actually less than you initially expected, and decide that hiring a probate lawyer is the right option for you. \t Mistake #5: Failing to File Required Tax Returns Executors who fail to file required tax returns will eventually find themselves in \u2018hot water\u2019 with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Estate Executors are required to file tax returns for both the deceased and the Estate, and should also obtain a Clearance Certificate from the CRA in most cases. An experienced tax accountant can assist you in determining which filings are necessary, and with completing the requisite returns. \t Mistake #6: Neglecting to Serve Adequate Notice on Interested Parties Estate administration laws in Alberta require an Executor to serve notice on various parties who may have interests in, or entitlements to, a deceased\u2019s Estate. Executors may overlook serving notices on certain parties, as notice entitlements aren\u2019t always obvious or intuitive. Your Wills & Estates lawyer can help you determine who is entitled to notice and prepare any required notices on your behalf. \t Mistake #7: Neglecting to Advertise for Creditors In some cases, the deceased may have had unknown creditors or unsatisfied debts. In such situations, an Executor is required to post newspaper notice to potential creditors, advising them of the deceased\u2019s death. Executors who neglect to advertise for creditors may open themselves up to liability, or mistakenly distribute Estate assets to beneficiaries before satisfying creditor obligations. \t Mistake #8: Mishandling\/Borrowing Estate Funds Executors sometimes mishandle or misappropriate Estate funds. Oftentimes, an otherwise honest Executor carelessly borrows or fails to adequately track their handling of Estate funds, and finds themselves \u2018out-of-bounds\u2019. It\u2019s important that you, as an Estate Executor, never borrow or otherwise use Estate funds for your own purposes. When in doubt about a particular transaction, contact your probate lawyer first. \t Mistake #9: Not Following the Will No matter how much you think that a particular loved one \u2018deserves\u2019 a share of the deceased\u2019s Estate, a particular family heirloom, or to act as the Estate\u2019s Executor, it\u2019s essential that you follow the deceased\u2019s valid last Will. \t Mistake #10: Neglecting to Have Beneficiaries Sign Releases As a probate lawyer, this is one of the mistakes that I see Executors make most frequently. Executors are, by law, required to provide Estate beneficiaries with an accounting of their handling of all Estate funds from the date of the deceased\u2019s death to the date of distribution. Once they\u2019ve provided an accounting to the Estate\u2019s beneficiaries, the Executor should ensure that each beneficiary approves the accounting and the Executor\u2019s handling of the Estate funds, before distributing funds to any beneficiary. Overlooking this aspect of Estate administration can open an Executor up to unwanted legal liability. The peace-of-mind that the release process affords an Executor can\u2019t be overstated, either. Our Probate Lawyers Can Help You Avoid the Pitfalls of Executorship If you\u2019re an Estate Executor or Personal Representative, the experienced probate lawyers at West Legal can help you avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that Executors most commonly make. We\u2019ll give you an honest assessment of whether probate is required in your circumstances, and, if probate is necessary, we\u2019ll guide you through the probate process and provide you with valuable legal advice that will help you administer the Estate in an efficient, stress-free manner. Contact the knowledgeable probate lawyers at West Legal today for a free-of-charge, no-obligation consultation. firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-723-0175 to get started.