If you’re asked to be an executor


If you’re asked to be an executor

The term may differ by province – executor, estate representative, liquidator, estate trustee, personal representative or administrator. But the duties are essentially the same, and they might be considerable.

A relative, friend or business associate asks you if you’ll be the executor of their estate. This is an honour. It means they trust you, and they’re confident in your ability to carry out the required duties.

Understand what’s involved

It’s important to know what’s involved before you decide to accept or decline the role. The executor works with a lawyer to obtain probate of the will; identifies all assets, determines their value, and may liquidate some assets; notifies creditors and pays any debts; manages any life insurance claims; files a final income tax return and annual returns for the estate; and distributes assets to the beneficiaries. But those are only some of the key tasks, so it’s best to look into the complete duties of an executor.

Also consider the estate’s complexity. If you’re primarily dealing with a principal residence and retirement savings, your work may be straightforward. But it could be another story if the estate also involves a stateside vacation home, a spousal trust and a rental income property.

In addition, be aware of the time involved. Some estates can be settled in less than 12 months, but one to two years is common, and complex estates can take even longer.

Making your decision

If you’re up to the task, serving as an executor can be a satisfying experience. Your acceptance of the role is a show of friendship or love in helping your friend or family member. Ultimately, you’ll feel gratified to have fulfilled the individual’s wishes for their beneficiaries.

If you decide to decline, you may want to explain to your friend or relative why you’re not accepting the role. This way, they’ll understand it’s not personal, and your reasons might help them choose another executor.

Published Spring 2023


Expert Insights