Executor duties burdensome

By Staff | May 22, 2012 | Last updated on May 22, 2012
2 min read

The majority of Canadians appoint family over friends as the executor of their will, according to a BMO Financial Group study.

However, with executor responsibilities consisting of nearly 50 tasks including tax, inheritance and family property laws, many may not appreciate the complexities that come with this duty.

“Being appointed as the executor of a loved one’s estate can be a daunting duty that involves an overwhelming number of tasks, some of which can be highly complex,” said Sara Plant, chief executive officer, BMO Trust Company. “Not only can it be an emotional period, but executors are often expected to dedicate a lot of time and take on a lot of responsibility that is often best left to a professional.”

The study showed that of the 85% who appointed a family member 40% appointed spouses and only 1% appointed a trust company as the executor of their own will.

The results of the study also revealed that, if appointed as executor, the majority of Canadians (65%) would not, or are not sure if they would hire a professional to assist them.

Those who have experienced being an executor (41%) have encountered administrative issues, emotional issues and legal issues.

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Plant said that those who are thinking about appointing a family member or friend as their executor should think it through before making the final decision.

“When it comes time to appoint your executor, it is important to appreciate the amount of work you will be asking the executor to undertake, especially if they are a family member or friend rather than a professional,” said Plant. “People often underestimate the level of involvement and responsibility it requires to carry out the directions of a will.”

Some tips on appointing an executor:

  • Understand the commitment: Ensure the executor you appoint is equipped to handle the time commitment and complexities of the tasks at hand.
  • Don’t surprise your executor: Determine in advance if your chosen executor is willing to act when the time comes.
  • Location, location: If your executor lives outside of your province, make sure there are no legal or administrative complexities involved in being able to manage your estate.
  • Stay up to date: Make sure you revisit your will every few years and update the executor, if necessary.
  • Keep an open mind: Remember that a professional service can be of great assistance to the executor, especially if the estate is complex.