So, you have been named the executor of an estate. Maybe you were expecting this, or maybe it came as a surprise. What to do?
The first thing is to understand what an executor (also called estate trustee or estate administrator) is: “An estate trustee is the only person with the legal authority to manage or distribute an estate”.
If you have been named an executor, you must decide before starting to act in that capacity, whether you are willing and able to fulfill the responsibilities. If it is not going to be possible for you to do the job well, you do have the option of declining or renouncing the appointment. In this case, the other joint or alternate executors may take over the role. Once you have renounced your appointment, this is not reversable, so you need to be very sure before you remove yourself from the role.
To help you decide if you can fulfill your responsibilities, you need to understand what they are. The first overriding responsibility is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person, according to the details in their will. An executor might disagree with some aspect of the will, but they do not have the right to change the outcome from what the will stipulates, unless the will specifically says the executor can use their own judgement.
The first tasks of an estate trustee are to secure the home and assets and arrange the funeral for the deceased. The estate trustee is then responsible for paying off debts, cancelling phone plans, cable or satellite accounts, selling the house or cancelling an apartment rental, cancelling utility accounts, cleaning out all closets, cupboards, filing cabinets, closing investment accounts, filing tax returns, and eventually distributing cash and belongings to the beneficiaries, according to the wishes set out in a will.
The estate trustee must take care of everything the deceased person would have taken care of but is no longer there to do so. The list may be much longer than the examples listed above. More detailed lists and guidance are available from several sources, including a Certified Executor Advisor. Winding down someone’s online existence is a new and complex responsibility of the executor.
We hope you will find this information valuable and will increase your financial confidence. You can always find these articles on our website www.actionfinancialgroup.com.
Karin Rimnyak, Certified Financial Planner®
David Dryburgh, Certified Financial Planner®
Ian Barrie, Certified Financial Planner®
This information has been prepared by Karin Rimnyak who is an investment Advisor for iA Private Wealth. Opinions expressed in this email are those of the Investment Advisor only and do not necessarily reflect those of iA Private Wealth. iA private Wealth Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. iA Private Wealth is a trademark and business name under which iA Private Wealth Inc. operates.