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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:

Basic estate administration duties

As you make your way through the estate administration process, you will need to conduct the following duties at a minimum, depending on the situation:

  • Make burial or cremation, and funeral arrangements
  • File for probate, if necessary
  • Locate and value all the decedent's assets
  • Pay any debts and taxes owed
  • File any necessary tax returns
  • Cancel social insurance, driver's license and OHIP cards
  • Cancel payments designed to end upon death – such as disability insurance, social assistance, OAS and CPP
  • Distribute remaining assets in accordance with the instructions in the will

In addition to the need to complete these tasks, you may also take on some personal liability for any mistakes made during the process. However, you may also be entitled to receive some payment from the estate for your duties. If it turns out that probate is needed, it could take anywhere from one to two years to complete, depending on the circumstances.

Serving as an estate trustee requires a significant commitment on your part. Fortunately, you do not have to go through the process by yourself. If you are not sure whether you are willing to take on this responsibility, you could benefit from discussing the general duties and specific needs of the estate in question with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer before moving forward.

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