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Naming an executor? Here are some important considerations.

Of all estate-related decisions, choosing an executor is one of the most important. If you choose the wrong person -- someone who turns out to be untrustworthy -- your life's savings could be squandered, and your loved ones could be badly hurt, emotionally and financially.

The reality is that removing a bad executor can be very challenging and expensive for your loved ones, so here are some things to consider when choosing someone for this crucial role.

  • The way to appoint an executor is to do so in your will. In these matters, verbal agreements can be woefully deficient if there is dispute over your actual wishes.
  • Family members can make good executors, but be sure to ask your loved one if he or she is up to the task. Being an executor is like a job in itself. Also, be sure to choose someone you trust, not just someone who has prior experience as an executor.
  • It may not be a good idea to choose someone who is significantly older than you are. Your executor should be healthy enough and willing to do the work.
  • Name a backup executor in case something comes up that prevents your first choice from taking the role.
  • Depending on your family situation, naming two executors for the job may be the best route to take. This way, duties can be split, and the parties can help each other make important decisions. However, naming too many executors can easily lead to confusion and conflict.
  • If you have a complex estate, a trust company may be a good option, particularly if your estate requires long-term attention from an executor/trustee.
  • When choosing an executor, seek counsel from an experienced estate planning lawyer. Additionally, it is a good idea to periodically review your estate plan to ensure that your initial choice is still the best choice.
  • Finally, for tax-related reasons, your executor should reside in Canada, preferably near your primary residence. An executor who is nearby can take quick action.

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