Where there is a will, there is a way -- to make a mistake.

As the overseer of estates, the nation’s 3,000 probate judges are constant witnesses to the sins of omission and commission that can be blots on a singular financial advisor’s record and the industry.

Many of the errors can be easily avoided, by preventing paperwork lapses during the lives of clients, for example, to refusing an assignment from an executor who isn’t the right fit, National College of Probate Judges President Jean Steward told Financial Advisor magazine in a phone interview Monday.

In airing mistakes that can cost heirs money and advisors court penalties and their reputations, Stewart, who served as a Denver probate court judge for over a decade and a half, said keeping track of a client’s trust assets is a ball advisors commonly drop.

“Just because a client puts an asset into a trust, that isn’t enough,” said the probate judge association chief.

The investor also has to sign a deed or a bill or sale or whatever piece of paper is necessary to transfer any asset into a trust.

Failures to complete those two steps, and the third of keeping track of where the ownership documents are, leads to a tremendous amount of litigation from multiple heirs claiming the same asset belongs to them.

Intense family feuds can be a reason for an advisor to decline a request for services from the estate’s executor, Stewart said.

Another reason, the probate expert said, is when an advisor isn’t well versed in a type of asset that’s an important part of an estate.

Stewart noted some advisors in her home state of Colorado decline to manage estates that include many oil and gas leases if they are inexperienced with them. An alternative approach, she said, is for advisors to oversee the assets they are familiar with and leave the rest to professionals who have that expertise.

Although they are becoming more popular, “dynasty trusts” set up to continue for generations may present problems for individual advisors, she said.

These estate vehicles, said Stewart, are best left to large advisory firms that have been around for 50 years and show they are likely to be in business for another 50 or more.

An advisor may also want to decline an invitation from an executor to manage the wealth when the estate does not generate enough cash to pay fees. She gave the example of an unprofitable ranch which in addition to not producing cash, may be hard to sell in whole or in part to pay the advisor’s and other estate expenses.