An executor is appointed by a deceased person to manage his or her estate according to the terms of the will. Generally, an executor gathers up the estate assets, pays the deceased’s debts, divides what remains of the deceased’s estate among the beneficiaries and makes funeral arrangements. Acting as an executor can be very challenging, and you should only take on this responsibility knowing that the task will be time-consuming and stressful. Once you begin the process of dealing with the estate assets, you are legally bound to complete the job, and you can only be relieved of your responsibility by a court order.
Who Can be Appointed an Executor
It is recommended to appoint an individual who has business experience, intelligence, and the utmost integrity and honesty. Usually a family member or a spouse is appointed.
Responsibilities of an Executor
First, it is important to confirm that you were named to be an executor in the original copy of the will. Second, consider hiring a lawyer. As an executor you will be required to do a lot of paperwork regarding the estate. If the estate is large, it is also recommended to hire an accountant.
As an executor you must confirm whether the deceased’s will is the last will. This can be done by obtaining aCertificate of Wills Search from a Vital Statistics agency at an office nearest you.
The next step is to cancel all credit accounts and subscriptions, as well as to protect the estate. It is your responsibility to ensure that all valuables are safe.
The Estate Administration Act requires that all beneficiaries be identified and given a written notice together with a copy of the will. This is generally done by the estate’s lawyer.
The next step is to prepare and submit all the necessary probate documents. You must get probate of the will to handle the deceased’s estate. You will have to pay the probate fee as it is assessed by the court registry. The funds for this generally are taken from the deceased’s bank account. However, certain assets do not require probate. For example, land owned in a joint tenancy with another person does not require probate. The same applies for joint bank accounts or vehicles.
As the executor, you are required to pay the deceased person’s debts. You could be personally liable if you do not pay the deceased’s debts before you distribute the estate.
Certain income tax returns must be filed, and income tax may have to be paid. It is also necessary to obtain a tax clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency. This certificate confirms that all income taxes or fees of the estate are paid. This is an important step because the tax department can potentially impose taxes that you do not know about.
You have a right to claim a fee for acting as an executor. The fee can be 5% of the estate and is a taxable income.
Lastly, you have to distribute the estate according to the terms of the will.
Seeking the Advice of a Professional
If you have decided it is time to seek the advice of a professional ensure to email us your contact information and one of our lawyers will contact you promptly.
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