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Carrying Out Final Wishes

How do you confirm that you were named as executor?

Some British Columbia residents are surprised to learn that they have been named as executor of a deceased person's estate.

The way to confirm this is to view the original will. Wills may be kept in the testator's home, at the lawyer's office who drafted the testamentary document or in the decedent's safety deposit box. When a thorough search fails to turn it up, you can do a search of the Vital Statistics Agency.

In order to gain access to a decedent's safety deposit box, you must first make an appointment with the banker controlling the box. You will need your ID, the death certificate and the key. If you discover the will, and you are indeed named the executor, you will be permitted to take the will.

However, you won't be allowed to leave with anything else in the safety deposit box until you hand over a copy of the Grant of Probate. At that time, the banker and the executor do a joint inventory and create a list of the contents.

If you have to search the Vital Statistics Agency, the matter becomes more complex. It's possible to register a wills notice with the agency that should tell where the original testament is stored. But not all testators file these notices.

Even if it does specify the location of the will, the testator can change locations at a later date. If no will is discovered, you will still need to submit this notice to the Probate Registry.

There are many decisions to make and matters for the executor to handle. Deciding whether you want to accept the responsibility is the first. An estate lawyer can help alleviate some of the burdens an executor faces.

Source: Canadian Bar Association, "Your Duties as Executor," accessed April 29, 2016

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