One of the most important choices you make when creating a will is who will be your estate trustee. This difficult but vital duty involves the protection and management of the estate’s assets. An estate trustee should have certain qualities that will assist him or her in those duties.
The probate process can be overwhelming. An estate trustee is responsible for paying the estate’s debts and taxes, closing out accounts and stopping payment on certain benefits. Only after these and other tasks are complete can the trustee distribute the remaining assets according to the will. An estate trustee should have the following characteristics:
- Someone who has a strong sense of responsibility and organization
- Someone who has some knowledge of finances
- A healthy adult who is younger than you and likely to outlive you
- A person who lives in Ontario so he or she has easy access to the estate
- Someone who understands the role and its duties and who is willing to take on the job
As a safeguard, some testators also elect to designate an alternate trustee in case the originally chosen estate trustee is unable to fulfil the duties when the time comes. Choosing more than one person to work as a team is another option, but those who do this are wise to outline the way in which they expect their trustees to arrive at decisions about the estate. It is also a valid option to enlist the services of a professional – especially if the estate is complex, the assets are unusual or the value is significant.