It is Make a Will month in Canada, and I am thrilled to be able to guest blog here on the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s website. In a previous entry, I outlined the things you need to do to get ready to make your Will. One of the most important things you will do when you make your Will is to decide who will manage the business of settling up and closing your estate once you die – in other words, choosing your Executor.
The person(s) who you appoint to manage your estate is known as the “Executor” of your estate.
In general, your Executor is responsible for the following:
- Arranging your funeral;
- Paying your debts;
- Filing Taxes;
- Holding, managing, buying and selling property as is appropriate for the circumstances of your estate;
- Holding property in trust for minors; and
- Delivering the gifts to the beneficiaries set out in your Will.
An Executor does not need a high level of expertise as they can hire professional advisors to assist with legal and accounting matters. However, your Executor should have a basic understanding of finances and should not be overwhelmed by financial responsibilities and paperwork.
Even more important than specific expertise is trustworthiness. Since your Executor will have the authority to manage your finances, access your bank accounts, investments, etc., there is opportunity for mismanagement or fraud by the Executor. Unfortunately it happens more than we would like to think. APPOINT SOMEONE honest, reliable, considerate and confident who shares your values and can be held to his/her word.
When choosing your Executor, also keep in mind that it is not an easy task and your Executor may be forced to make unpopular decisions. Therefore you should ask yourself the following questions:
- How will my Executor(s) deal with all of the paperwork required to complete my estate?
- How will my Executor(s) communicate with my beneficiaries and other potential stakeholders, including various institutions, government agencies and professionals such as lawyers, accountants, etc.?
- How will my Executor(s) hold up if faced with pressure from the beneficiaries?
- How will my Executor(s) hold up, in circumstances of personal grief or personal financial difficulties?
Your Executor should be over the age of 18. It is preferable to have your Executor reside in the Province of Ontario if you are an Ontario resident. Non-resident Executors must purchase insurance bonds, which is an expense that will come out of your assets. There are also tax implications for non-resident trusts.
Finally, if you are facing difficulties in choosing an acceptable Executor, consider hiring an estate lawyer or a trust company to act as your Executor; it just might be the right thing for you.
Making your Will can feel overwhelming and stressful. I completely understand. This is why The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim (planyourwill.ca) is committed to making the process easy, and understandable. For a free telephone consultation please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. No question will be left unanswered.
November is Make a Will Month. And this month YOU could be our Super Hero! By doing your Will and including a charitable gift you can save taxes, protect those you care about and help save the world from dementia! Act now! Click here to request your free Estate Planner and Guide or call Kristy Cutten at 416-847-8915.