Have you chosen the right person as executor of your estate?

Fast & CompanyEstate Administration, General

In order to have your wishes carried out regarding the administration of your estate, it’s important to select the right executor to handle your affairs when you die. Making the wrong choice can delay the distribution of assets to your heirs, inspire contested will battles and potentially open the estate to tax liabilities.

The right person for the task should ideally be a mature individual who is both diligent and thorough, as it falls to the executor or estate lawyer to accurately inventory all the estate’s assets. The task requires attention to detail and is often quite time-consuming, so the person named as executor should have ample time to dedicate to their estate administration duties.

In order to protect the estate or heirs from legal claims from creditors at some future point, the executor must be meticulous about properly notifying all potential creditors with legitimate debts owed to them.

Some estates aren’t very complex and can be settled quickly. However, if the deceased own part or all of a business, some of the assets may have to be sold, or a partner may buy out their interest. In small owner-operated businesses, executors might even have to step up to the plate and run the business. They would have to hire a manager and make employee payrolls, so executors need some business savvy in order to make a smooth transition of the enterprise to the heirs.

To avoid running afoul of Canadian tax laws, executors have to properly file all tax returns with payments. When the estate is vast or complex, it is up to executors to retain competent accountants or estate administration lawyers to cover all the bases.

The most competent person is often not the spouse or an adult child of the deceased. A friend could fit the bill more closely, and there are always legal and financial professionals who can handle the estate for a fee.