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Carrying Out Final Wishes

The duties of an executor, Part II

This is the second installment of our series on the duties of an executor in British Columbia.

Many executors elect to retain a lawyer to prepare the paperwork and provide legal advice on the probate process. Legal fees are considered to be a legitimate expense of the estate and are paid out of the assets. Most lawyers can provide estimates of the charges, but due to the varying complexities involved, may not be able to name an exact figure.

Probating substantial estates may require the services of an accountant to prepare the multiple tax returns that must be filed, which is another responsibility of the executor.

Executors are technically responsible for making the funeral arrangements for the deceased. However, you should also take into account the preferences of the deceased and their survivors. Copies of the death certificate can be ordered from the funeral home. All of the funeral expenses can be paid out of any bank accounts holding funds of the deceased individual. The bank can issue a cheque to the funeral home for the final expenses.

After making the funeral arrangements, the next order of business is to cancel credit cards to protect the estate from unauthorized charges. Any subscriptions the deceased had will need to be cancelled as well.

Any valuables must be secured during the probate process. Executors should get new locks installed on any properties owned by the deceased, with valuable items put into storage. As most insurance policies get cancelled automatically when houses are vacant for over 30 days, executors should speak to the insurance agent about obtaining a vacancy permit.

As stated in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act and the Supreme Court Civil Rules, all potential beneficiaries must be notified. This includes those family members who qualify as heirs if no will is found, and those eligible to make an application to the courts to challenge the will. All must be provided with a copy of the will, if applicable, along with written notice of the application by the executor for the estate grant, which includes probate. This is one of the duties that a lawyer for the estate usually handles.

We will conclude this series next week with the third and final installment on an executor's duties.

Source: The Canadian Bar Association, "Your Duties as Executor," accessed Dec. 11, 2015

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