Mistakes Personal Representatives Make

They don't follow the Will


If the Will doesn't give the Personal Representative a specific power to decide who gets what from the Estate, the Will has to be followed, even if the Personal Representative and/or the beneficiaries think the distribution in the Will is unfair or that it doesn't represent the deceased's wishes.




They don't follow the intestate succession rules where there isn't a Will


If there is no Will, the Personal Representative has no discretion to alter the distribution of the Estate as set out in the Wills and Succession Act.




They don't keep beneficiaries informed


Accordng to the Estate Administration Act, a core duty of a Personal Representative is regularly communicating with beneficiaries concerning the administration and management of the estate. Benefiaries who are left in the dark often make untrue negative assumptions about what the Personal Representative is doing. The beneficiaries are entitled to all information in the Personal Representative's possession that is relevant to the administration of the Estate.




They don't keep records


Keeping records of everything they do to administer the estate is a fundamental duty and core task of personal representatives. Personal Representatives who fail to keep accurate and complete records can be held personally liable for assets they can't account for. The duty to keep records commences as soon as the person becomes the Personal Representative. It continues right through the administration of the Estate and pays off when the Personal Representative has to provide the beneficiaries or the court with an accounting in order to be released as the Personal Representative.




They don't get valuations and appraisals


A Personal Representative that disposes of an estate asset at less than its actual value can be held personally liable for the loss. Valuations and appraisals provide professional opinions the Personal Representative can rely on. Valuations and appraisals are particularly important when Estate assets are sold or allocated to beneficiaries or persons related to the Personal Representative.




They delegate decisions they are required to make themselves


Personal Representatives can delegate administrative tasks, but not discretionary decisions.




They give in to pressure from beneficiaries


Personal Representatives are sometimes subjected to intense pressure from beneficiaries who want/need their shares of the Estate right away. However, because they are legally required to administer the Estate neutrally and according to law, which takes a certain amount of time, Personal Representatives are required to resist this pressure.




They distribute gifts before they have full information about debts and taxes


Debts and taxes have priority over gifts to beneficiaries in a will, or distributions to heirs where there is no will. If a Personal Representative makes a distribution that depletes the Estate to the point that there is not enough money to pay the debts and taxes, they can be held personally liable for the shortfall.




They fail to hire a lawyer when they get in over their heads


Estate administration can be complex and stressful. A Personal Representative who is in over their head can make mistakes that can result in personal liability. Turning Point Law specializes in helping Personal Representatives navigate the complexities of estate administration.





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