What does an executor do?

When completing your will, you will need to name an executor. They will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf after you pass away. It is a challenging decision and the role comes with a lot of responsibility. This video outlines the primary duties they will fulfill after you pass.

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Video transcript

A big part of the will planning process is selecting an executor. This person makes sure that the wishes in your will are fulfilled after you pass. Let’s go over the primary duties of an executor.

Preliminary steps

When you pass, the first steps the executor takes are to review the will, meet with your family and make any final arrangements like organizing a funeral or celebration of life. 

Assemble and value the estate

The executor will need to contact all the financial institutions where the deceased may have assets for up-to-date information. They will also obtain the value of any physical assets. For example, real estate, vehicles or jewelry. 

Identify and locate beneficiaries

Every person named on the will, either by name or by category, such as grandchildren, will be notified. The executor will need to collect contact information and inform them. 

Put the will through probate 

The next step for the executor is to apply to the court for probate and pay probate fees as required. A court certification will be obtained, which enables the executor to deal with estate assets.

Estate administration

The administrative tasks of an executor include arranging for the sale of any real estate, closing bank accounts, preparing and filing income tax returns and paying any debts or taxes. Once this is all complete, the executor can obtain a tax clearance certificate from the CRA and any other relevant tax authorities. 

Estate distribution

The executor will be responsible for distributing your assets among the beneficiaries according to your wishes. Distributing assets could include giving $50,000 to a grandchild, a piece of jewelry to a friend or the family cottage to a son or daughter. They may also need to establish any trusts in accordance with the will.

Being an executor is a large responsibility, so it’s no surprise that it is quite common for executors to retain the services of a lawyer for assistance with the probate, administration and management of the estate. The first step is to notify the person you have selected as your executor to make sure they are comfortable accepting the position.