Naming an Executor
Believe it or not, you may not be the most important person in your Will.

When you die, your property becomes part of an “estate.” Your estate is not another person—it’s an abstract entity created by law. But a person needs to manage your estate. That person is called an “executor,” or estate trustee.


Executors have a very important job. They must:


  • Arrange your funeral, if it hasn’t been planned already
  • Ensure your property is preserved and protected
  • Settle any outstanding debts with creditors
  • Carry out the instructions in your Will

Executors have the responsibilities of a “fiduciary” under the law. That means they must act in the best interests of your beneficiaries. If they mishandle your assets they can be held personally liable.


How Should I Choose an Executor?

Here are some things to consider:


  • Pick someone you trust.
  • The executor must be at least 18 years old.
  • The executor can be a beneficiary under your Will.
  • Is your spouse going to be your executor? If so, you might consider crafting your Will so that he or she can get help from lawyers, accountants or trust companies.
  • You can name a professional, such as a lawyer, or a trust company to be your executor.
  • To avoid extra costs, find someone who lives in your province.
  • What will happen if the person you choose dies before you or is unable or unwilling to act as your executor? Consider choosing someone to be a back-up.
Executors do a lot of work. As such, they are entitled to be paid out of your estate’s assets. If one of your family members is your executor, it’s common to have them waive payment. But they are generally entitled to receive it anyway.


So, what is considered reasonable compensation for an executor? It depends on where you live. In Ontario, for instance, there is no fixed amount for executor services. Ask your lawyer about the rules for executor’s compensation in your province.


You can determine the exact amount and when your executor can receive it in your Will. The courts commonly allow an executor to charge around 5% of the total value of the estate. It depends on many factors, including the scope and complexity of the work they do.


If your executor is someone who lives outside your home province, your estate may have to post an expensive security bond with a court. Speak to your lawyer about how to avoid paying for one.
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