Unfortunately I recently had a family member pass away. It is never easy to lose a loved one. While grieving I also witnessed my family members, specifically the three that were named executors, attempt to settle the estate. In my case the three executors did not live in the same province, there was some family tension and one executor eventually had to renounce their duties. The family drama has subsided, but witnessing the event did highlight the difficulties of being an executor.
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The role is also an honour. Being named an executor implies your loved one regarded you as trustworthy and capable of carrying out this important task. What follows are a few tips that can help you in the role of executor. If you are in the process of appointing an executor for your estate the tips can also guide your decision.
The More You Know Now the Better
Be prepared. The more information you collect now the easier it will be later. Are their multiple executors? Where is the will kept? Is there a safety deposit box? At which financial institutions do they hold accounts? Is there a list of assets? Conversations about the passing of a loved one are not easy. However, I believe answering questions like these is prudent and estate planning requires open communication.
There can be a lot of paperwork when settling an estate. Additionally money will be changing hands as debts are paid, taxes are filed and beneficiaries receive their inheritance. Mishaps can have financial consequences and executors can be held liable. Gathering and maintaining full and detailed records is important.
It is a good idea to have the deceased’s mail redirected to your address. Having all of their mail directed to you can be a time saver and can help you determine which people and institutions need to be notified of the death.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
To properly settle an estate you will likely need the help of numerous professionals: lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, funeral directors, insurance agents, bankers and the list goes on. These professionals can provide guidance and ease the burden of being an executor.
Being an executor is an important task. Whether you have been asked to be an executor or are deciding who to name as your executor, open communication and proper planning go a long way.
This information transmitted is intended to provide general guidance on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader who accepts full responsibility for its use, and is not to be considered a definitive analysis of the law and factual situation of any particular individual or entity. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a professional accounting, tax, legal or other professional advisor. This commentary reflects my opinions alone, and may not reflect the views of National Bank Financial Group.