When creating an estate plan, Ontario residents are entrusting certain individuals with acting for them upon either death or incapacitation. These fiduciaries must perform their tasks honestly, in good faith and to the best of their abilities. What does that mean for the people appointed to fulfill the major roles in those plans?
The executor appointed in the will is obligated to settle the affairs of the deceased individual in accordance with that document and applicable laws. Those duties include paying debts, addressing tax issues and distributing the assets of the estate, among other things. A trustee is obligated to manage the assets of the trust and protect the interests of the beneficiaries while carrying out the grantor’s wishes as outlined in it.
The person appointed in a power of attorney for health care makes medical decisions for the incapacitated person in accordance with his or her advance directive. For Ontario residents who have children, appointing a guardian to care for their minor children may be one of the most important decisions they ever make. This person would raise the children in the event of the parent’s death.
An individual may appoint the same person to serve in all of these capacities, or different people may be chosen. The important part to remember is that the people chosen to fulfill these roles must have the trust of the individual making the appointment. Fiduciaries take on immense responsibility, so it would also be advantageous to make sure they want to serve in one or more of these capacities before executing any documents. It may not be the most pleasant conversation, but it needs to take place.