|What are the responsibilities of the
The following are some of the general responsibilties of the
executor in taking charge of the assets of the deceased, paying the debts,
and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. This list is not
intended to be complete but does indicate the type of issues. Your lawyer
will provide you with a complete list.
- Ensure that all the real and personal property is protected, including arranging
if necessary fire insurance on buildings, and changing locks to protect
- Locate safely deposit boxes and attempt to locate the key.
- Selecting the lawyer to act for the estate and obtaining from them
notarial copies of the death certiciate. Choose a lawyer who has
extensive experience in Wills and Estates work. Pick an accountant to
assist you if your lawyer suggests this is appropriate. Discuss the
lawyers and accountants fees and disbursements right up front.
- Locate all life insurance policies and notify the insurance company
of the death and forward a copy of the death certificate to have the
policy paid to the beneficiary.
- Notify all insurance companies including house insurance and car
insurance of the death. Ensure that insurance is maintained make a list
of all the assets and including stocks, bonds, pension funds, bank
accounts, government investments, superannuation payments, holiday pay
from work, work related life insurance or benefits for the spouse etc.
- Are there any interests in partnerships or companies and locate
shareholders and partnership agreements and provide a copy to the lawyer
for his examination. (there may be triggering clauses in those
agreements that must be met quickly)
- In conjunction with discussions with the spouse,
- Locate the previous several year's income tax returns and provide
copies to the lawyer or tax accountant. These must be reviewed quickly
to ensure that no filing dates are missed. Government tax authorities do
not care that the person is deceased. The executor may be personally
liable for any tax penalties that are incurred because filing dates are
- Pay the account of the funeral director. Your lawyer will tell you
the priority of paying debts, but normally the funeral directors account
is to be paid before most other debts.
- Make a list of all debts. This will include accounts for charge
cards, house utilities, property tax arrears, income tax arrears, loan
payments, outstanding leases, mortgages on house or vehicles, alimony or
prior separation agreement. Provide this list and supporting
documentation to the lawyer.
- Once all the assets have been located and the
debts paid (including the account of the executor) then the estate will
be disbursed in accordance with law and the terms of the Will. In many
cases a sale of real estate and personal property may be necessary prior
to distribution of the estate. This is where an Estate Settler representative will be invaluable.
And since reasonable fees are allowed at no cost to you, the
Estate will cover all the costs of Estate Settler.
- You will need to advertise for creditors in the local newspaper to
ensure that all the debts are known and paid.
- Your lawyer will advise whether any court proceeding is required
regarding the Will. This is called filing for Probate. Often if there is
adequate tax advice at an earlier date, the requirement for Probate can
be avoided. This will save the estate considerable money.
- You will need to notify the beneficiaries about their bequest and
provided there is money left after the payment of all debts, the
beneficiaries will receive their money or assets from you as Executor of
- You may need to open up a Bank Account in the name of the Estate at
your local bank using a notarial copy of the Will (or Probate if
required) together with a copy of the death certificate. Use a chequing
account that you receive the cheques back so you can verify that you
paid the funds if required at a later date.