What is an Executor and How Do I Appointment One?

Developing your will can be complicated. Depending on the complexity of your estate, you may spend a lot of time and effort creating a plan for administering your estate according to your wishes and in the best interest of your loved ones.

But who will make sure your wishes are followed through after you pass away? Through your will, you appoint someone to manage your estate, and this person or group of persons will be your executor(s).  The role of your executor is an important one.

What is an Executor?

An executor is a person appointed to manage the bequests you’ve made in your will. They can be a lawyer, a family member, or even a trusted friend. You may also choose to have only one executor or to have a group of co-executors. Whomever you choose, they will be responsible for carrying out the directions you have left in your will.

Appointing an Executor

Appointing an executor is a significant decision.  The role of an executor can be complicated and time consuming.

You appoint your executor in your will. If your will does not appoint an executor, the priority to act as your executor can be found in the Estate Administration Act. Once your executor is appointed in your will, they will be responsible when you die to pursue a grant of probate to confirm the will’s validity and their appointment. If your will also requires the management of land, the grant of probate will enable your executor to transfer any real estate owned by you as directed in your will. 

Because of how extensive and complicated the job can be, there are various characteristics you will want to consider in a potential executor.

Trust

Your executor will have access to almost every aspect of your life, as it is their job to wrap up your affairs and follow through on your wishes.  Because of this, it’s important to appoint someone you trust to manage your estate.

While many people appoint a family member as their executor, this is not always the case, and you are free to appoint anyone you want.  It’s important to remember that once a grant of probate is issued, the courts do not oversee the administration of your estate and instead rely on beneficiaries or other interested parties to raise any concerns with how an executor carries out your final wishes. 

Objectivity

You will want to appoint an executor that can remain objective, so that they are able to fulfil your wishes without bias.  This can often be more difficult where family dynamics may be difficult to manage during a time when emotions will already be running high. 

Your executor must be able to remain completely objective as they administer your estate; otherwise, your estate may have the chance of being mismanaged.

Time

The role of executor can take a very long time to complete. If your estate includes investments, debts, or trusts, it can take quite a long time to track down all of these different assets, to make sure they are correctly handled, or for the trust to come to a conclusion.  You executor must have the time to complete their responsibilities.

Another concern may be the age of the person that you choose to be your executor.  Your executor must have the physical ability to complete the administration of your estate. Further, if they die before they are able to complete the administration of your estate, the executor of their estate may have to complete the administration of your estate as well!

Ability

Being an executor requires attention to detail and the ability to manage your assets adequately.  To the extent you own real estate, have investments, savings and other assets, you will want to appoint an executor that is able to adequately manages those assets.  They will likely need to deal with your banking, legal and accounting advisors so a basic understanding here is important as well.  An executor also needs to be able to deal with the emotions of the people involved in your life who will be grieving your loss. 

The Benefit of Hiring a Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer to assist in preparing your will is essential.  Your lawyer can provide you with guidance on selecting an appropriate executor and clearly defining their responsibilities in your will.  Your lawyer can inform you on what your executor will need to do, in order to help you make the best choice.  Where a lawyer helps you to prepare your will, that lawyer may then have a unique ability to assist your executor in administering your estate (should that lawyer still be available when you pass away, of course).

KH/Dunkley Law Group can assist you in preparing your will.  We will take the time to guide you through the process, advise you on important decisions such as appointing an executor, and make recommendations to reduce complications in the future.

KH/Dunkley Law Group also provides full representation for executors in administering an estate and obtaining a grant of probate.  Our help can extend to reviewing and interpreting the will, preparing documents for submission to the Court, sending required notices, preparing releases and acknowledgements of beneficiaries, dependents, or trustees. Following the grant of probate, we can help executors in the transfer and sale of real property and other business assets.

Contact the lawyers at KH/Dunkley Law Group today to plan and organize your estate, or if you have been appointed as an executor in a will, and let us assist you through the process.

Sources:

https://www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca/plan-manage/planning-basics/wills-estate-planning/choosing-an-executor/
https://www.rbcwealthmanagement.com/ca/en/research-insights/choosing-an-executor-four-characteristics-to-watch-for/detail/
https://wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca/index.php?title=Choosing_an_Executor
https://www.thebalance.com/executor-executrix-3505523
https://www.thebalance.com/step-by-step-guide-how-to-probate-an-estate-3505261

Written by Khalil Haji

Khalil is the principal lawyer of KH/Dunkley Law Group. He graduated as a gold medalist from the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, and then went on to obtain his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario (graduating in 2007). After he graduated from the University of Western Ontario, he practiced law at national firms in both Calgary and Toronto. He opened his own firm - KH Law - in 2010, where he practiced until forming KH/Dunkley Law Group.