Selecting and naming an executor should not be based on whether the testator thinks it’s an honour. An executor’s job is not glamorous; it is a legal duty. It starts immediately following the testator’s death and is not complete until all trusts established under the Will have been wound up, the last tax return filed and a final clearance is received from Canada Revenue Agency.
One of the executor’s first tasks is to locate, safeguard and value every asset the testator owned at the time of death. The executor must also deal with the debts and liabilities. Assets may need to be sold to raise money for cash bequests, expenses and taxes.
So who should be selected as executor? Who is best equipped to deal with the legal and financial matters that need to be addressed? That depends upon the individual’s situation.
- If the testator is married and the majority of the assets are registered joint with right of survivorship, naming the spouse is often a good idea.
- The executor must treat all beneficiaries fairly and not show favouritism or give in to more demanding individuals. Will the executor be comfortable dealing with conflict? Can the executor remain impartial?
- It is possible that some assets may be held in trust for many years. The long-term ongoing management and administration of a trust requires significant time commitment, difficult decisions and paperwork. Does the executor want this ongoing commitment?
- If the testator is in business, the executor will be too. The executor needs to take the steps necessary for the proper operation of the business and administration of the estate. Will the executor have the necessary expertise?
- The age of potential executors should be considered. If the executor is older than the testator, will that person be available or able to do the job at the time of death?
When an individual is an executor, their attention to the executor duties can be influenced by other personal interests, age, ill health, procrastination and excessive stress due to the demands of fulfilling expectations in an area where they may have little experience or expertise.
Therefore, the executor should be asked whether they are willing to accept the appointment. They would be accepting full legal responsibility for the administration of the estate and could be held personally liable for any legal proceedings brought against the estate as a result of their action or inaction.
In all cases, when an individual is named as executor, it is important to name an alternate executor. A corporate executor such as Concentra Trust is often a good option in the event the named executor is unwilling or unable to complete the task. Estate administration services in the capacity of executor or trustee are at the core of what Concentra Trust offers. Our team of professionals are experts in administering estates and trusts of any size or complexity and are committed to providing personalized service.
Personal trust services are offered by Concentra Trust, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Concentra Financial.
Joan McAulay, Senior Personal Trust Specialist, Trust Relationship Management & Sales