I am an Executor….now what?!?!

 In Executor Help

When someone finds out that they have been named as an executor for a loved one’s estate, the first thing you may feel is very honored to be have been trusted to handle such an important task. The next thing someone may feel is……lost.  Being an executor is not exactly something that we each receive training for before we step into this complex role.  This may have you wondering “What should I do next?”


While there are hundreds of tasks and steps to the successful administration of an estate, let’s focus on the top three things you should tackle when entering into the role of the executor.

  • Make contact.  This would go beyond family and friends, you will need to contact any type of pension payment providers as soon as possible to stop payments.  It is a lot easier to cancel a payment before it is paid out instead of having to sort out what should be paid back due to over payment.  Another contact that should be made is to apply for the CPP death benefit as these funds can help with any balances owing for the funeral. Proper authorities should be reached out to for the cancelling of important identification documents such as SIN, passport, etc. to reduce any risk of identity theft.
  • Take inventory. This seems like a simple enough suggestion, however once you start to go through someone’s entire financial life this exercise can suddenly become quite daunting. One thing to consider is that this step will help you greatly for preparing the necessary information for your lawyer and the Application for Certificate of Appointment (formerly known as probate.) Taking inventory would mean not just finding out what assets your loved one may have had, but digging deeper to see if these assets had named beneficiaries such as a life insurance policy as this would be passed outside of the application for Certificate of Appointment process.  Consider logging/recording account numbers and contact information as it is a great help to know where to request statements for balances as of the date of death when the lawyer asks you for one.  Don’t forget to find out about any debts owing, these liabilities also must be accounted for during the application process by finding out the balance owing on the date of death by requesting statements from the loan provider.
  • There is help.  You are not alone in this process, there are professionals for every circumstance or task.  If completing tax returns is not in your wheel house don’t fret, you can hire a accountant to prepare one for you, or if you have no idea where to begin on selling a high valued art piece, you can hire a professional art appraiser.  It is better to have the expert help you on a matter that you are not comfortable with, than to have issues down the road because of an error made.  Keep in mind while you can hire professionals to help you execute certain tasks, you cannot delegate the authority to make decisions to someone else. This responsibility is for the executor only.

While this list goes over some beginning considerations and steps for the administration of the estate, it does not cover everything.  The successful administration of an estate will sometimes be time consuming and even seem overwhelming at times, however once the estate is wrapped up it is a great feeling to know that you did a job well done in honor of your loved one.

Remember help is here for you, we have Certified Executor Advisors on staff that can guide you down the estate administration path ensuring that you never feel alone along the way.

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