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Tips for being an exemplary executor

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2021 | Trustees, Executors & Fiduciaries

Those who take on the role of administering someone’s estate need to know how to do the best job possible. There is so much more to being an executor of an estate than most Ontario residents realize. It might help the process move along in the right direction if people knew exactly what to do — for their own sakes and on behalf of the decedent.

Specifics that may help

The more a person knows about the executor position, the better. Here are some tips that may prove invaluable:

  • Understand what the position entails. There may be many administrative tasks to deal with depending upon the estate. An executor can be held personally liable if a mistake is made to create a shortfall in the estate, so it is crucial to be somewhat educated on what the role involves before agreeing to take on the job.
  • Ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help when facing the unknown. Seek out professional advice if treading on unknown waters, including the help of a lawyer.
  • Carry out the last wishes of the decedent. An executor’s role is to distribute the estate like the testator wanted.
  • Encourage communication. In many of these situations, certain family members will have questions. An executor should always be open to communicating with beneficiaries and to be transparent about what’s happening.
  • Take care of taxes and debts before paying beneficiaries. Beneficiaries receive what is left after taxes and debts are paid.
  • Take time for administration. It’s important to do things correctly. Most estates take about a year to administer, with some even longer depending upon their complexity.
  • Keep up with paperwork. Keeping records of payments is important, especially if beneficiaries have questions.

The role of executor in Ontario is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and some financial savvy to do a proper job. But knowing what to expect and what to do can make the entire process much easier for everyone involved.

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