An executor/executrix is a person or person(s) appointed by a testator (the person who creates a will) to carry out the terms of the will. There are a number of duties that must be performed and the complexity varies with every estate. Choosing someone to act in such a role is not a decision to be taken lightly. Below are some questions to consider when appointing an executor.
- Does this person want to be named my executor?
An executor can renounce their executorship if they do not want to act as such. It is important to let your executor know that they have been appointed or are in consideration and have a conversation about the duties the role entails.
- Does the person have the expertise?
Some estates are more complicated than others. As an executor, you may be required to exercise your judgement and knowledge on topics such as the realization of estate assets, making investment decisions on behalf of the estate, minimizing taxes payable, preparing final tax returns etc. While you can and should retain the services and advice of lawyers and accountants throughout this process, you should still feel comfortable with such matters as you will have the ultimate responsibility and accountability for ensuring the estate is administered properly.
- Does the person have the time?
Administering an estate can be a lengthy process, in some cases spanning over multiple years. Take into consideration their other commitments (i.e. young children, work demand etc.) and whether or not they can allocate the time, energy and devotion this serious task requires.
- Where is this person located?
Will meeting with your lawyer, financial institutions, accountant etc. require them to travel? It can be quite difficult to administer an estate long-distance and can put a lot of stress on the executor.
- Does this person understand my intentions?
Sometimes and executor is given discretion in administering the estate, such as the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. You should be able to trust their decisions and be confident that they would act as you would have wished.
- Is there a conflict of interest?
One of the most difficult tasks as an executor is dealing with the family and beneficiaries of the deceased. In the event of conflict or hostility, it is the executor/executrix’s job to act as a mitigator. If the executor is also a beneficiary, it may be difficult for them to act in a truly impartial and objective manner.
For our client’s estate planning needs we work alongside Tyler Hortie, who practices in the areas of corporate/commercial, real estate and estate law. His estate practice focuses on planning and administration including the use of multiple wills as a tool to reduce estate administration tax (probate). Please contact us for more information.
Posted In: Estate Planning