Jessica Lo, Manager of Estate Planning & Lawyer
Solus Trust Company Limited
While you have probably heard that is important to have a proper Will, note that good planning under that Will includes naming a good executor. The executor is critical to carrying out of the Will-maker’s wishes as this person will be legally responsible for handling everything following the Will-maker’s passing; this typically includes making funeral arrangements, locating and safeguarding the estate assets, applying for probate, settling any debts and liabilities, attending to tax filings, and ultimately distributing the balance of the estate assets to the beneficiaries.
The amount of work and time involved in the executor’s job is often underestimated, and should be thoughtfully considered when deciding who to appoint. For the typical estate, and presuming that the executor is relatively diligent, this work usually takes about 18 months on average to complete. The work can be onerous, and it can also take even longer where complexities arise. As such, it would be in the best interests of your future beneficiaries to consider whether a potential executor is organized, responsible, and trustworthy. Note that it is also important to check if that individual would be willing to serve in this role, and to consider whether they would be able to devote the requisite time and attention to the work involved.
Bearing the above in mind, Will-makers can potentially consider appointing relatives or friends as their executor, depending on whether there might be a suitable candidate among them. It would also be prudent to appoint one or more alternate executors, who can serve as back-up options in case the first choice is later unable or unwilling to act.
An executor option which is becoming increasingly popular is to appoint a trust company, which serves as a professional executor – and the trust company can be appointed as the first choice executor or just as a back-up. For some, a trust company may be the only solution if there are no local relatives or friends who are suitable and willing. Knowing that a trust company will be there to assist if appointed can provide peace of mind, and it also takes the burden off relatives and friends.
Given the various factors to consider, the decision of executor appointment should not be taken lightly. Who you name can greatly impact how your estate is handled and whether the beneficiaries will be well served. That being said, note that nothing is ever set in stone and if circumstances later change such that your executor appointment is no longer preferable, then you can (and should) take steps to update your Will accordingly.
This article is intended as a general source of information only and should not be considered or relied upon as personal and/or specific financial, tax, pension, legal, or investment advice.
BC’s Make-a-Will Week is October 4 – 10, 2020. MAWW is a Ministry of Justice campaign that brings awareness to the importance of creating and maintaining an up-to-date will, which ensures that the people, charities and organizations you care about most receive the benefit of your estate.
In conjunction with the Leave a Legacy Vancouver program of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, we are sharing tips and info throughout the week to help our readers learn more about wills and their pertinence in ensuring that final wishes are understood and executed. Visit our blog all week for key posts related to MAWW and will preparation.