A Complete Guide to Appointing an Executor

If you had to choose anyone to manage your money after you died, who would it be? Your executor of course. Your executor carries out your final will and testament. You can appoint one or more executors (also called personal representatives). Choose carefully so you can rest easily.

Is an Estate Trustee Different from an Executor?

Yes. A trustee holds property in trust for beneficiaries, such as money for children under 19. Your executor on the other hand:

  • assists with funeral arrangements
  • locates bank accounts
  • hires and manages accountants, investment advisors or lawyers
  • collects your property
  • pays debts and cancels credit cards
  • files final income tax returns
  • gives out inheritances
  • receives correspondence, keeps records and files paperwork in court.

You Forgot to Appoint an Executor in Your Will

No problem. The court will appoint one for you.

What If You Die Without a Will?

Life’s like that. You forget, put it off or just don’t bother making a will. Now what? When there’s no will, Ontario Probate Court appoints an estate administrator to be your executor. Be aware though, your estate may not be settled the way you would have liked. When you die intestate, your assets are distributed according to the Ontario Succession Law Reform Act.

What if Your Executor Falls Down on the Job?

Sometimes the task is too overwhelming or time consuming. It happens. Rest assured, a court-appointed administrator will take good care of distributing your property and possessions.

Finding the Perfect Executor

Anyone over 18 can be your executor. Look for someone you trust, who is skilled at managing money, decisive, has good judgment and lives in Ontario or Canada. Avoid appointing someone your heirs dislike or who may have a conflict of interest. You can always appoint two or more executors to get just the right combination to manage your will and estate.

How Long Does Settling an Estate Take?

Up to a year is average, depending on how complex your will is. Your executor is expected to move quickly. If they take too long, your heirs may challenge them in court. They also have to act prudently to maximize your assets, such as investing them until they are ready to be distributed.

Are There Any Risks?

Executors can be personally liable if they fail to act in good faith. Be sure your executor(s) understand that before they agree to help you.

What Will it Cost?

Executors and estate trustees can be paid a set fee, reimbursed for expenses and receive up to 5% of your total estate (2.5% of any capital assets and revenues plus 2.5% of the amount your heirs receive). The court may award additional fees if your estate is large, complex, you have many heirs or your estate sues.

Getting Legal Advice

Being an executor is a huge responsibility. Before you appoint an executor, talk to an Axess Law wills and estates lawyer. They advise you on all the angles. Make an appointment by calling toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form. Lawyers are available 7 days a week, at times convenient for you. We can meet in person, by phone, email or remote video call.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s wills and estates.