To execute an estate is a big task – it requires time, organization, and determination while dealing with the loss at hand. To be an executor means dealing with legal professionals, financial institutions, creditors, legal court system and beneficiaries. The pressure can add up and rightfully so; it is the executor’s job to ensure someone’s last wishes are carried out.

It’s not easy to prepare to be an executor; often times individuals learn that they have been named the executor of an individual’s estate, only after the individual has passed on. However with ReadyWhen, you know well ahead of time if you have been assigned as an executor (or another role) to someone’s Estate, thanks to the Team functionality. If the owner of the Estate is using ReadyWhen, and assigns you as an executor, you will be notified immediately. However, that still doesn’t answer the basic question: what exactly does an executor have to do?

Well, we are here to help. An executor is responsible for doing the following, but is not limited to just these items:

  • Arranging the funeral
  • Locating the original, hard copy of the will
  • Securing and appraising the assets of the deceased
  • Assembling a detailed list of all assets and liabilities
  • Applying for probate, if necessary
  • Paying the debts and taxes of the deceased
  • Providing an account of all disbursements to beneficiaries
  • Distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries
  • Filing taxes and obtaining a clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Applying for any death benefits
  • Cancelling any utilities
  • Selling any assets
  • Cancelling any subscriptions
  • Collecting the contents of any safety deposit box
  • Cancelling or amending any insurance policies accordingly
  • Redirecting Mail
  • Advertising the news of the deceased for awareness of any creditors, if required

ORGANIZATION:

An executor must keep accurate financial records, including copies of all receipts, as well as a record of time spent in administering the estate. This serves two purposes.

  1. The executor must be able to meet the Court’s and beneficiaries’ requirements to ensure that the Estate has been administered properly
  2. The executor is entitled to compensation which is dependent, in part, on the amount of work done and time spent by the executor.

The truth about being an executor is that you start right away upon the individual’s demise. There is no 30/60/90 day plan, but there is some solace in knowing that you can tackle things in phases. 

THE FIRST THINGS YOU NEED TO DO ARE:

  • Find out if there is a will in place 
    • With ReadyWhen you will know immediately because you can access the entire Estate plan, in a view only mode
  • Plan and pay for the funeral 
  • Find and hire a solicitor, if necessary
  • Open an Estate bank account with a financial institution   
  • Notify beneficiaries of their ownership in the Estate 
    • This will be easier because if the owner of the ReadyWhen account used the Teams function correctly, the beneficiaries would already be aware, as they would have access to view key documents, if added to the team
  • List all estate assets and safeguard them until distributed or sold 
    • The listing part would be done for you through ReadyWhen; however you would want to physically double check everything that has been listed in the Will 
  • Arrange for management for the deceased’s business, if applicable
  • Collect income generated by the estate assets and/or payable to the deceased
  • Pay any bills, mortgage payments, property taxes, income taxes, insurance premiums, and credit cards
  • Check leases and tenancy agreements, and pay/collect rent, as appropriate
  • Redirect mail, cancel memberships, and end subscriptions to newspapers and magazines
  • Cancel health insurance, driver’s licence, utilities, and credit cards

NEXT – TACKLE THESE ITEMS:

  • Arrange for valuation of assets where necessary
  • Apply for, or instruct the solicitor to apply for a Certificate of Estate Trustee (Probate)
  • Prepare and file income tax returns for the year of death and prior years, if necessary
  • Consider any claims, (known or potential), against the estate and obtain legal advice, if necessary:
    • Assess the rights of the surviving spouse under provincial family law
    • Assess the rights of any dependents who were financially dependent on the deceased
  • Set aside a reserve fund for estimated debts, taxes (including potential taxable capital gains), and the personal representative’s compensation.
  • Prepare an interim release and make interim distribution to beneficiaries, if appropriate

ENSURE THESE ITEMS ARE ADDRESSED TO CLOSE OUT THE ESTATE:

  • Convert investments and other assets to cash and deposit the funds into the Estate account, or invest the Estate balance in interest-earning investments, pending final distribution to beneficiaries
  • Re-register assets in Estate’s name, if applicable
  • File final income tax returns
  • Obtain a clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Settle and pay all legitimate claims against the Estate
  • Arrange for transfer of real property
  • Arrange rollovers of RRSP/RRIF accounts to the spouse or dependent children
  • Apply for any benefits payable on death, including CPP/QPP death benefit, life insurance proceeds, death benefits from pension plans, or annuities
  • Prepare and maintain Estate accounts for approval by the beneficiaries or examination by the court, where appropriate (also known as Passing of Accounts)
  • Have your solicitor prepare and send final releases to all beneficiaries
  • If there is no will, distribute assets according to rules for intestate succession
  • Dispose of, or distribute personal effects, according to instructions in the will
  • Prepare cheques, pay legacies, and transfer bequests
  • Invest assets for establishment of trusts

The content on the ReadyWhen Platform is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind.