Choosing an Estate Executor, Liquidator or Trustee

Administrating an estate can be an enormous amount of work, which is why it’s so important to think carefully before you name an executor—also known as a “liquidator” in Quebec and an “estate trustee” in Ontario.

Your executor—or executors—will be responsible for dealing with all your legal and financial matters and ensuring that the provisions of your Will are carried out. Consider the points below when choosing your executor(s).

  • Your executor should be someone you trust completely, such as a spouse, adult child or close friend.
  • They should get along with your other executors (if applicable) and deal fairly with all members of your family.
  • They will ideally be of an age at which they are capable to serve as your executor when needed.
  • If possible, your executor should live in the same province as you do.
  • Ensure your executor has granted their permission before you name them as executor in your Will.

People with complex estates or blended family situations often appoint a professional executor, such as a trust company, rather than choosing a friend or relative. Another option to deal with more complex estates is to have a relative or close friend serve as a second executor.

Executors, whether individual or professional, are entitled to compensation for the significant amount of time and work involved in the process. You can include directions as to how your executor(s) should be compensated if your Will, and your legal advisor should be able to provide guidance on any provincial standards or maximums.

Prevent family disputes by making specific bequests

Deciding who inherits personal property and heirlooms has the potential to lead to tense disputes among family members. For example:

  • Which daughter gets the beautiful diamond ring?
  • Which child gets the painting over the mantelpiece?
  • Who gets the grandfather clock that’s been in the family for three generations?

When choosing an executor and writing your Will, consider any items you’d like to pass along to someone specific among your family or friends. Making specific bequests, which are provisions in your Will, will ensure your wishes are fulfilled and help avoid conflict among beneficiaries.

Verbal instructions, written notes, audio recordings and even labelling your instructions on the objects themselves can help identify who will receive what, but all of these methods invite challenge and dispute. The safest way to make your bequests legally binding is to include them directly in your Will, or in a memorandum incorporated into your Will. As you age or downsize your home, you may consider giving away some of the items while you are alive—just remember to revise your Will if you choose to do this.

Looking for sound legal advice for your organization, business or corporation? Contact KGPC today.

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