CHOOSING AN EXECUTOR
An executor is the person named in your Will who is responsible for administering your estate. This person is to act on your behalf to carry out your wishes, as you state them in your Will. It is possible to name more than one executor. Before choosing an executor(s), it is important to understand an executor's duties and responsibilities as this will assist you in choosing the most appropriate executor(s). Whomever you choose, there are several points to keep in mind when making this decision.
The executor you choose should be a person who is trustworthy, reliable and available for consultation and able to make decisions without delay. With professional assistance, most family members are very competent and capable to act as your executor. In most instances, your spouse or other family member is, in fact, the best choice. A family member is familiar with other members of your family as well as your business affairs. Another advantage of choosing a family member is cost. An executor is entitled to an executor's fee of 2% to 5% of the value of your estate. A family member will frequently waive this executor fee. To prepare for the possibility that the person you choose dies before you, you may wish to name an alternate executor.
DUTIES OF AN EXECUTOR
Read the Will and meet with the family.
Become familiar with the deceased's financial affairs and communicate with beneficiaries.
Prepare an inventory and valuation of estate assets, including: writing to financial institutions; completing life insurance forms and pension claims; and managing investments.
Obtain Probate from court, if required.
Administer the estate assets, including closing out bank accounts, safety deposit box, collecting insurance proceeds, selling real estate, delivering household and personal effects and generally, converting assets to cash.
Pay all proper debts, including taxes.
Arrange for the filing of Income Tax Returns and obtain tax clearance from Revenue Canada.
Pay out legacies, other bequests and the residue of the estate.
Submit an accounting to beneficiaries and obtain Releases from beneficiaries.
YOUR LAWYER AS EXECUTOR
Occasionally, a spouse or beneficiary may not be an appropriate choice as executor, and a professional executor is required. In such cases, a member of our firm would be pleased to act for you. There are many advantages to the appointment of a member of our law firm instead of choosing a trust company.
Your solicitor will be more familiar with your business affairs.
Your solicitor practices in the same locale as you reside and will be more easily accessible by other family members than an employee of a large trust corporation whose offices are situated elsewhere.
You will know exactly whom you are appointing as your executor. With a large trust company, the employee you meet today may not be there tomorrow. It is more comforting to know the person who will actually be looking after your estate affairs.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact one of our knowledgeable and experienced solicitors.