Pre-empting problems with executors

September 11, 2014 | Last updated on September 11, 2014
2 min read

When choosing an executor for your will, keep these important factors in mind:

1) Age

WeirFoulds lawyer Lori Duffy says it’s not unusual to name a friend as executor, especially if you have young children. But by the time those children are adults, that friend’s much older, and what seemed like a good choice no longer makes sense. Non-family executors should be a generation younger than you.

2) Complexity of the estate

Some executors may not have the financial savvy to handle a large estate. If the assets are straightforward (a family home and an investment account), then the task will be relatively simple. But if assets include a business, foreign investments, vacation properties and other holdings that are not straightforward to liquidate, things become difficult. “We’ve seen a lot of people who’ve been put forward and are overwhelmed because they’re not sure what to do,” says Ann Galvin, who works with Stern Cohen LLP.

3) Outlook

Estate planner David Brown, a partner with Al G. Brown & Associates in Toronto, suggests you select someone who embraces the same values, psychology and overall outlook as you do. Advanced knowledge of financial management, he says, is less important because wills can always be written so that executors can take advantage of the expertise of advisors, like accountants and lawyers.

4) Staying power

Executors need time and patience for the long haul. Executors are paid for their work, but the process of dividing up an estate can drag on for years, or even longer if you have established trusts for beneficiaries.

Also take into account the effects of grief. The work involved in settling an estate may simply be too much to ask of the people closest to you.