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Mississauga Wills & Estates Law Blog

Without a will, estate administration could get complicated

Some people don't think they have enough assets to have to worry about a will. Others simply never get around to creating one. Whatever the case, matters can quickly become complicated if you pass away without a valid will.

In such cases, Ontario intestacy rules will dictate how your assets are distributed. This may go against your wishes and exclude certain family members who would have otherwise been included. Ultimately, this can lead to anguish and resentment among your loved ones.

What you can expect when serving as an estate trustee

When you accepted the job of carrying out the last wishes of your loved one, you may not have fully understood what you were getting yourself into. Now that the time has come for you to take on your duties as an estate trustee, it would probably help for you to gain an understanding of the tasks for which you will be responsible.

Below is a list of the duties courts will expect you to complete prior to closing the estate:

Questions you should ask before agreeing to be an executor

If you are asked to execute a loved one's will, it can seem like a tremendous honour. However, it is also a significant responsibility and can come with many challenges. 

Before agreeing to take on this responsibility, executors should be aware of what they are taking on and consider whether they have the skills, time and willingness to contend with some of the common challenges.

What happens when Canadians name non-Canadian executors?

When picking an executor, it is common practice to select a trusted family member and someone who lives nearby. However, for Canadian residents from immigrant families, this can be tricky advice to abide by. 

Your preferred executors are typically your most trusted family members or friends. If they all live outside of the country, it may be worth reconsidering your options to prepare for a smooth administration process.

An outdated will can present challenges in estate administration

Being an executor or power of attorney often comes with its challenges. Outdated estate plans can make the process particularly tricky, in part because the wishes outlined in the legal documents may not align with what the deceased communicated to beneficiaries.

Families can prevent these estate administration challenges by regularly reviewing and updating their wills.

What does estate planning have to do with your business?

Running a successful business takes a great deal of commitment and work. If you are one of the lucky ones whose business has withstood the test of time, you more than likely want to make sure that it outlasts you. Perhaps you made arrangements within the company to make this happen, but have you considered using estate planning to help ensure the smooth transition of ownership after your death?

It may not be pleasant to consider your own mortality, but when it comes to your business, you have probably already realized that planning is crucial. Without it, your family could face significant challenges pertaining to your company after you pass away. They could end up paying more in taxes and face possible litigation along with conflict and confusion.

Empathy can help all when dealing with farm estate issues

Business owners, especially those with significant property or multiple beneficiaries, have unique challenges when it comes to planning for what happens after they pass away. Farmers and their families are particularly aware of this, especially when not all children want to carry on with farming.

Experts suggest that dealing with one another with compassion, even in tricky or possibly litigious situations, can help ease tension and keep families together through estate administration challenges.

Are executors typically compensated in Ontario?

It's no secret that estate administration takes a great deal of work and attention. Often, the individual chosen to execute a will is one with certain professional skills, such as financial management, organization and communication.

These individuals may be wary about taking on such a large commitment without compensation, because it may take away from time they could be committing to a paid job or personal activities. For this reason, executors in Ontario are entitled to be paid for their work.

What are fiduciaries in estate administration?

When a person passes away, many individuals may be responsible for supporting the estate administration process. This can include professionals, like lawyers and financial advisors, as well as executors and trustees named in the will.

Legally, members of certain professions in Ontario are bound by a duty to act in their clients' best interest. Failure to do so can lead to serious consequences for the individuals who were named as fiduciaries.

When naming executors, it is wise to stay close to home

Many people who live in Canada may have trusted friends or family in another country. When developing estate plans, it can be tempting to name their most trusted and reliable loved ones as executors, regardless of their location and residency.

While the individual may be a good fit for the job, there is a great deal of complexity that British Columbia individuals and families may face when they name someone outside the province, or even the country, to oversee their estate administration.