Having co-executors for a Will can make your life easier. Majority rules! Less work for you.
Stay diligent. You could be liable for co-executors’ mistakes or misdeeds. It’s up to you to monitor other executors in case they overreach their authority.
Appointing an executor is serious business. Before you accept an appointment, make sure you understand your liabilities, just in case your many responsibilities catch up with you.
How to Become Executor of Estate in Ontario
Your friend, business partner or next-of-kin thought hard about who to appoint as executor of Will. Don’t let them down. Once they’re gone, you will be in charge of their estate — with your co-trustees.
So what do estate executors do?
Arranging the Funeral
First up, get proof of death and arrange the funeral by:
- contacting co-executors
- hiring a funeral home
- if the deceased didn’t discuss it with you, talking to relatives and friends about burial or cremation wishes.
Besides a death certificate from the funeral home or Service Ontario, you’ll need the original Will and any codicils — changes, additions or revoked versions — plus the proper court forms. Check the deceased’s home, safety deposit box, lawyer, private will registries or local courthouse for Wills.
Valuing the Estate
Make a quick valuation of the deceased’s estate. You can revise estimates later, but for now co-executors will need to file the estimate and apply to court to defer or pay estate administration taxes.
Axess Law has experienced probate lawyers near you who can advise on valuing estate assets for estate trustee applications.
What is probate? Axess Law answers your questions.
Before you apply, you and your co-executors will have to notify estate beneficiaries of your intentions to get a certificate of estate trustee with a Will. Ask an Axess Law probate lawyer for assistance.
Confirming Executor Appointments
Requests to administer an estate are filed at the courthouse where the deceased’s assets are located. Depending on the estate size, you could get a small estates certificate (assets under $150,000) in about one to two months or, for larger estates, certificate of appointment of estate trustee with a Will in four to six months or longer.
Axess Law drafts the applications you need. Your first probate consultation is free!
How Long Does an Executor Have to Settle an Estate in Ontario
Now comes the challenging part, making decisions that benefit the estate’s best interests. It’s called “an executor’s year” because that’s the average time it takes to settle an estate.
Making Unanimous Decisions
But what if the Will requires you to make unanimous decisions? In fact, most basic testamentary Wills expect executors to reach consensus on every matter. You can ask the court for a legal opinion on discharging your duties, but not what decisions to make. That’s up to your discretion.
Who Rules in Majority Rules
Suppose the Will has a majority rules clause. As a sole dissenting voice, it’s easy to get overruled. But it can make distributing the Will faster.
Dissenting When the Majority Rules
Your dissenting voice is especially important if the majority votes to do something that breaches their fiduciary duties. For instance, they might vote to invest the deceased’s assets in a shaky stock scheme.
Unless you take financial or legal steps to prevent unsound decisions, you can be personally liable for fiduciary breaches. Your legal duty extends to using estate law or probate courts to correct executors’ conduct, even if you are only one of many estate trustees.
Acting honestly and reasonably by using your own judgment and discretion can relieve you of liability. But you must act in the deceased’s interests to avoid costly litigation by beneficiaries.
Being Left Out of Decisions
Now imagine being left out of decisions by the majority. It’s not unheard of.
As an independent executor of Will, you have a legal right and obligation to be heard. Which is why rogue majorities incur liability when they block dissenting votes. Majority rules means all the executors have a say.
Axess Law refers you to trusted legal partners if you need an Ontario court’s authority to uphold your right to be included.
Your Executor Liabilities
Your executor liabilities require you to make financially prudent and intelligent decisions. It’s your responsibility to do what an ordinary person might expect when they appointed you estate trustee. If you honestly couldn’t have reasonably anticipated the outcome, courts may excuse your conduct.
While you may not be held liable for a majority rules decision you disagreed with or weren’t part of, why take chances?
Low Cost Flat Fee Legal Services
Axess Law’s flat fee services bill you only for the essential legal assistance you need to probate a Will in Ontario. Ask us for a quote on applying to probate court, with or without a legally valid Will. Need help understanding estate administration taxes? Your first probate consultation is free. When you’re not sure what to do next, give us a call.
Get Timely Probate Advice
When you’re executing an estate for the first time, get timely, affordable legal assistance from Axess Law probate lawyers near you. We’re in your community, with virtual notary services or in person appointments.
Our virtual lawyers go online with you, anywhere in Ontario. Make remote video conference calls day or evening, at your convenience, with the confidence of knowing your conversations are confidential. Our secure, remote video conferencing service protects your privacy and identity.
Make Appointments In Person or By Phone
Book in person appointments at any of our Axess Law locations in Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa. It’s as easy as using our online booking form or calling our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line (toll free calls accepted at 877-522-9377).
Axess Law is open 7 days a week, with onsite parking and easy transit access. Call us today.