When a death occurs without warning, the family members are in a state of shock. But decisions still must be made, and often it falls to the executor of the person's estate to make them on very short notice.
If you are the executor of someone's estate, it's incumbent upon you to preserve and protect the assets that now belong to the estate.
When acting as executor of a decedent's estate, you have a duty to be an earnest steward of their assets until all are disbursed to the beneficiaries and heirs. Sometimes, through no fault of the diligent executor, assets depreciate, such as if the housing or financial markets nosedive.
Even professional estate administrators and lawyers dislike handling estates where there are multiple contentious heirs working at cross-purposes with one another. Sometimes dissatisfied heirs try to undermine the probate process by selling off some of the estate's holdings, but more often than not, the in-fighting is demoralizing and creates chaos.
If you are the spouse, adult child or other relative of a person who died without leaving a will, you could wind up applying to the court to administer that person's estate. If the decedent dies intestate and has no spouse, parent or children to handle these duties, or if those relatives are not willing or able to execute the duties, the court could wind up appointing you if you had a close relationship with the person during his or her lifetime.
If you are the administrator of your parent's estate and you have at least one sibling, chances are good that you have first-hand experience with frustration. There's something about parental inheritance that turns otherwise pleasantly civil siblings into the snarling and scrapping toddlers they once were.
Last week we reviewed the timeline of estate administration in the days and weeks following the death of the decedent. Today, we pick up the timeline where we left off — several weeks after the person's demise.
If you are newly appointed as the administrator of an estate, it can be confusing knowing what needs to be done when. Below is is a list of the duties you will be responsible for performing and the approximate time you will need to do them.
Some estate administrators in British Columbia might have to deal with an estate freeze. The term refers to the transfer of business assets while the business owner is still alive to the intended heirs for the purposes of business continuity. At the same time, the individual is given valued shares of the business locked-in at today's worth, which has favorable tax implications.
Congratulations, you've been named as executor of your late friend's or family member's estate. It may seem a dubious honour, but it means that the person trusted you a great deal.