According to the Canadian Bar Association,
Although this description represents the primary tasks, they are only the tip of the iceberg. What many do not know about are all the duties required to achieve those primary responsibilities.
Once an individual accepts the role of executor, they assume personal and legal responsibility to perform their duties accurately, efficiently and in the best interest of the testator/deceased. They are legally required to complete the job and can only be relieved of their duties by a court order.
Those who have performed this role often report they were totally unprepared for the emotional, stressful and time consuming experience of being an executor. And since most executors are also family members of the deceased, there is often an additional strain on family relationships as the executor balances the needs of the beneficiaries with the best interests of the deceased’s estate.
Protect your Legacy and Family Relationships
Make an Informed Executor Choice
A Closer Look at Executor’s Duties
The following is a more detailed view of the tasks required by an executor. Although not an exhaustive list, it provides a comprehensive view of what is required to assume an executor role.
- Determine if organ donation is required.
- Make funeral arrangements.
- Obtain proof of death (from the funeral home).
- Apply for a Death Certificate (from the government).
- Review the will with a lawyer.
- Arrange for care of dependents and pets.
- Discover and secure all assets: Home, Contents of home, Other real estate, Personal property, Business, Vehicle, Perishable goods, Safety deposit box.
- Determine if any vacant real estate and inform insurance.
- Pay funeral costs.
- Find all ongoing expenses and debts.
- Stop all unnecessary expenses: Subscriptions (magazine, theatre), Health care (home care), Memberships (gym, club, sports, auto, professional, etc), Entertainment (cable, satellite, websites), Communication (telephone, cell phone, Internet), Insurance (auto, disability).
- Cancel Social Insurance Number, Passport, Drivers License and health card (to avoid identity theft).
- Forward mail.
- Notify all holders of assets: Bank, Broker, Investment advisor, Insurer.
- Notify all service providers: Utility companies, Landlord, Property maintenance.
- Notify Service Canada regarding CPP survivors benefit, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement (funeral home may do this).
- Cancel credit and debit cards.
- Review all documents relating to assets: Property insurance, Mortgage, Lease, Business, Investment.
- Review all documents relating to financial obligations: Contracts, Divorce or separation agreement, Court orders.
- Establish an Estate Bank Account.
- Arrange a meeting with investment advisor.
- Institute plan for securing and managing assets until sale, disposal or distribution.
- Re-register or transfer ownership of all assets to the estate.
- Obtain valuation of all assets.
- Prepare inventory of assets and liabilities.
- Schedule payment of all debts.
- Apply for Probate or a certificate of appointment.
- Meet with all beneficiaries of estate.
- Maintain or initiate legal actions on behalf of the estate.
- Defend legal actions against the estate.
- Advertise for creditors.
- Collect life insurance death benefits.
- Arrange for transfer of assets passing outside the estate: Registered investments, Jointly held accounts and land.
- Maintain records of assets and estate administration.
- Sell assets, as appropriate.
- Collect debts.
- Pay debts.
- Litigate or settle all claims by or against the estate.
- File outstanding tax returns (including terminal return).
- File final estate tax returns.
- Obtain a tax clearance certificate.
- Obtain interpretation of Will.
- Distribute assets according to the Will: To individuals, To charities, To trusts.
- Claim executor’s fees.
- Obtain releases from beneficiaries.
Choose an Executor with the Right Skills
Many think being appointed an executor is an honour. Although it does mean the testator trusts that person enough to manage the administration of their estate, it also means being responsible for a nest egg built over a lifetime. It’s a big deal.
Your executor needs to have the following skills:
Unburden Your Family by Being Prepared
The executor role is stressful with many tight deadlines, which is the last thing family and friends need at a time when they are grieving. If you choose a family or friend to be your executor, consider the following tips to prepare them for executor responsibilities:
Successful estate settlements rests with your executor choice.
Asking someone to be your executor is asking them to take on long hours of work to perform the multiple tasks required, assume legal responsibility for the administration of your estate, and manage family dynamics and conflict while balancing their wishes with the best interests of the estate.
Be informed, prepared and consider professional executor support when making the very important decision of who will be your executor.