It is not uncommon to hear that the oldest child is who the executor should be for a person’s estate. Being an executor is not an “honour” that some expect it to be. It is a job that can have many moving parts, some anticipated and some not, such as a sibling or spouse seeking to vary the Will. What is most important is to choose a person that you trust to carry out the terms of your Will and who will not bend to external pressures on how to do it.
When considering a person to be named as your executor, it is helpful to be aware of the duties that they must fulfill. If you believe they are up to the task, they are an appropriate person to name. Some of the key aspects of being an executor are:
- Obtaining an accounting from anyone acting as your attorney under a Power of Attorney, if necessary;
- Obtaining all banking information;
- Contacting the financial institutions to advise of your death and close or freeze accounts, if necessary;
- Correspond with the funeral home and other family members;
- Obtain the death certificate;
- Locate important documents; and
- Begin the application process for probate.
These are a sample of some of the duties your executor will face. It is recommended that you appoint someone who is good at carrying out these types of tasks in a timely manner. You do not want a procrastinator or someone who does not do well with administrative tasks. A further consideration is to appoint someone who may be better suited with performing this role while going through the grief process. Being an executor can be a thankless and emotionally exhausting role, especially when still grieving the loss of a loved one.
Your executor will be under a fiduciary duty to always act in the best interests of the estate. This can be difficult if there are competing interests from beneficiaries, which is why having an executor who is able to put the best interests of the estate first is important. For example, if you have real property that one child would like to purchase and one child that would like it sold, your executor must navigate the dispute to maximize the benefit to the estate while at the same time maintaining an equal division between the children.
One way your executor can be assisted in the probate process is to retain the services of a law firm to oversee the application process. Our firm can assist in providing support to your executor. Contact our office to discuss your estate plan or if you are an executor and would like to discuss ways we can assist you.