You’ve been named executor. Now what? A 6 step guide to estate administration.

shutterstock_90567055Being named executor for an estate is both an honour and a responsibility. It means that while grieving the loss of a loved one, you also have the obligation to make sure their last wishes are fulfilled.

It can be difficult to get started, and it’s worth taking some time to research the steps involved in administering an estate.

There are SIX main activities related to estate administration you will need to address as executor (although not all activities within each step may apply to you):

Step 1
Locate the Will. Common places to look include safety deposit boxes, personal files, or a home safe. It could also be on file with a professional advisor such as Concentra Trust, a financial advisor, an accountant or lawyer.

Step 2
Make funeral arrangements. There are many decisions to make when arranging a funeral, usually in a short time period. Regardless of instructions or wishes from either the deceased or their family members, as executor, you are ultimately responsible for funeral arrangements.

Step 3
Protect the estate. This includes rerouting mail, ensuring any vacant property is properly insured, notifying financial institutions, advertising for creditors, and safekeeping any valuables.

Step 4
Inventory assets and liabilities. This is required for the probate application and may include contacting government agencies, such as the CRA and Service Canada, locating property titles, valuing assets, as well as notifying lenders and credit card companies. Once the statement of assets and liabilities is completed, you’ll need to provide a copy to the beneficiaries.

Step 5
Complete the Probate application. Probate is commonly required when real property is held solely in the deceased’s name. Probate may also be required by a financial institution. There are three ways you can complete a probate application: do it yourself; have a lawyer complete it; or call Concentra Trust.

Step 6
Distribute estate assets. You will need to file the required tax returns to receive a CRA Clearance Certificate. You will then be able to prepare a final report for the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries must approve the report, your executor’s fee, and sign a release before you can distribute the estate assets and close the estate account.

Since some of these steps are complex, it can be wise to enlist the help of a professional. Our experienced advisors offer executors advice and guidance through the entire estate process. You may only need a little advice, or you may want a complete solution. Our expert team is professional, compassionate, and knowledgeable. And we’re here to help.

Joan McAulay
Senior Personal Trust Specialist
Concentra Trust

For a no cost, no obligation consultation with an estate specialist, call 1-800-788-6311 #1888 or email

This information cannot be considered to be legal, tax, real estate or financial planning advice, nor replace professional advice, but can serve as a helpful reference.


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