Take care when selecting an executor

Administering an estate is no cakewalk, so make sure your choice for executor knows what they’re getting themselves into ahead of time. 

There is no doubt that the responsibility associated with the position of estate trustee calls for the appointment of someone you know well and trust implicitly. 

But there’s no point in selecting someone who lacks either the time or the interest necessary to do the job properly; I know from bitter experience how difficult things can get when the executor named in a will doesn’t want to act. 

The best way to avoid this kind of scenario is to engage in a frank discussion with your preferred executor, explaining why you want them to do the job and exactly what will be expected of them.

Prospective executors should know that they can expect to be in the job for at least a year, gathering financial information, signing forms, filing taxes, paying off debts and distributing assets under the estate. 

Although they will generally be able to seek help from lawyers, accountants and other professionals, the executor is expected to coordinate any necessary work.

Executors should also be comfortable with the instructions contained in the will, especially where they may require supervision over a prolonged period of time, such as the creation of a Henson Trust or unique requests and gifts relating to specific minors, dependants and other beneficiaries. 

In addition, it’s a good idea to review your choice for executor whenever you revisit your will as a whole – which should be happening every few years or after major life events, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or a major change in net worth. Make sure your executor is still in a position to act, and that you’re still comfortable with them being appointed, as things may have changed since you first named them in the will. 

Another thing to consider is your executor’s country of residence. If they live outside of Canada in a non-commonwealth country, courts require estate trustees to put up a bond covering twice the total value of the estate, which can impose a significant cost, depending on the amount of assets at play.   

If nobody among your friends and family fits the bill, it may be worth approaching a trust company to administer your estate instead. 

Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Laredo Law (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues.

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Jacob Manishevitz is a mortgage agent with iBridge Capital. His brokerage donates to several charities that range from providing drinkable water to people in need in developing countries; and supporting important organizations by way of activity-based fundraising. If you are looking for worthwhile causes and want to jump on board, please reach out to Jacob.

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