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Serving as an estate executor is a significant responsibility. In this role, you are tasked with carrying out a person's affairs after he or she passes away, and this can involve addressing a myriad of financial and legal matters.

Unfortunately, you might also have to make decisions that are not popular or well-received by beneficiaries. You can face accusations of fraud or misconduct, and beneficiaries may try to remove you. To protect yourself, you can take the following measures.

  • Keep accurate records – Do not throw away any documentation or receipts regarding estate transactions. You may have to spend your own money on things like appraisals and then collect reimbursement from the estate in some cases. Keep these records organised and accessible. You would also be wise to keep a log of the time you spend on estate-related matters and any money you collect.
  • Understand your priorities – Administrators can be in an uncomfortable position if the wishes they are supposed to carry out conflict with those of the heirs, or if they disagree with the decedent's decisions. However, as an executor, you have a duty to act in good faith and prioritize the estate's interests above others, including your own.
  • Know your legal options – If you are unsure about serving in this capacity, you should know that you do not need to accept the role of administrator, even if someone has named you in their estate planning documents. You should also know that you may collect compensation for your efforts.
  • Get help if you need it – Unless you have robust experience as an estate administrator in British Columbia, you will likely have questions or concerns about the process and your responsibilities. Understand that you need not have all the answers, and you can reach out to a lawyer for help and guidance. Doing so can allow you to avoid missteps and carry out your duties efficiently.

Administering an estate can be time-consuming, complicated and stressful. However, with these measures in place, you can feel more confident that you are able to fulfil your obligations responsibly.

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