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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Important things to know about probate for the executor

Being named as executor of an estate is a solemn responsibility. While it may be a source of some pride to be named to such an important position, many would-be executors are understandably daunted by the enormity of the task. Estate law is fairly complex, and the process of probate can be confusing and possibly lengthy. For those British Columbia men and women facing this job, here are some tips to help them better understand what might lie ahead.

To quickly summarize, the executor takes stock of the assets of the estate, pays the debts owed by the deceased and then sees to the division of the balance of the estate amongst the beneficiaries. Prior to this, the will goes through probate, which is the process whereby the court declares the will to be legally valid or not. Though all this seems fairly simple, it isn't always, depending largely on the size and complexity of the estate and the clarity of the will.

An important thing to be aware of for anyone given the task of executor is the right to refuse the position. If a person has yet to deal with any part of the estate, he or she may still decline the job of executor. This should be considered carefully; it can be a time-consuming and stressful task, and not everyone may feel up to it. Once begun, completion of the job is legally required.

There may be those who are weighing the financial burden of being executor before making a decision. While one may hope the estate will pay for any expenses relating to administration -- including funeral costs, debts and professional fees -- there is the possibility of having to miss time at work to focus on the estate and other out-of-pocket costs. The executor is allowed to take a fee for services from the estate. The maximum amount of the fee is 5 percent of the value of the estate, and it must be reported as taxable income.

Choosing to accept nomination as executor is not always an easy decision to make. It is important to go into the task prepared to work hard and diligently. Having the guidance and assistance of an experienced British Columbia law firm may make the probate and administration processes much easier to get through.

Source: cbac.org, "Your Duties as Executor", Accessed on Dec. 5, 2016

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