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Choosing one's executor is a key part of estate planning

It is one of life's great ironies that one of the most important and potentially complicated events an individual will be associated with occurs after he or she has passed away. The dispersal of personal effects and assets after a person's death may be a simple wrapping up of affairs, but it could also be a time for giving generous gifts to loved ones, or securing a legacy for the future. Unfortunately, the donor cannot be there to oversee the process. For that reason, choosing an executor is one of the most important aspects of estate planning in Ontario.

One of the top qualities to look for in a person one might choose as an executor is trustworthiness. This person will have a great responsibility to look after on the testator's behalf; it is important to believe the chosen individual has the ethics to do the job according to one's wishes. If this person also has some experience with tax, investments and other financial matters, it would be a significant asset.

On a practical note, it makes sense to choose someone likely to outlive the testator. No matter how technically qualified a person may be, it may not be wise to choose someone of advanced age, or uncertain health. Naming more than one executor is also a possibility, or an executor and a backup as a safeguard. If there is no obvious or appropriate choice for the role, an estates professional, such as a lawyer, can be named to the position.

Estate planning is an important task to which all residents of Ontario should attend. Making a will is a key part of the process, and selecting the best person to execute the will deserves careful consideration. A lawyer can help with this and other aspects of making one's final arrangements.

Source: getsmarteraboutmoney.ca, "Choosing an executor", April 1, 2017

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