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Before you name your executor

The duties of an executor are demanding, time-consuming and often complex. Selecting a good executor for your particular situation requires an understanding of the duties and relevant trust legislation, plus a great deal of care. 

Among the responsibilities of an executor are: to arrange the funeral; create an inventory of assets; have the will probated; manage the assets; pay debts and bills; file income tax returns for the deceased individual and the estate; and distribute assets according to instructions in the will. It's no small task for most people and there are some potential hitches.

Did you know?
  1. An executor is accountable to beneficiaries and may be exposed to personal liability if mistakes are made. It's important to choose someone with the required skills and knowledge. 
  2. Settling an estate may take months, or longer - potentially decades if your executor will manage trusts on behalf of your children or grandchildren. Be sure to name alternates in case your chosen executor is unable to the complete the job. 
  3. In fact, unless alternates are named in your will, if your executor dies before winding up your estate, his or her executor takes over. We bet few people know this. 
  4. Naming a business partner is often not a good choice. A partner's objectives may conflict with those of your family. For example, if the partner decides to purchase an interest in the business, or wishes to retain earnings to expand the business whereas your family requires income from the assets. 
  5. Under provincial legislation, anyone appointed as your executor is entitled to claim standard fees. Some individuals choose family or friends over a professional, unaware of this fact.
For many of our clients, involving a professional trustee is highly recommended. It might be as simple as leaving instructions in your will encouraging your executors to hire professionals, as needed, or having a professional provide general estate administration services. Alternatively, you could name a professional to assume full duties as an executor, alone or with a family co-executor. A corporate trustee also offers longevity, ensures an unbiased approach in settling the estate and could be chosen for specific expertise. 

Our team would be happy to discuss your options for executor and explain how a professional could ease the workload of family members at an emotional time.

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