MONEY TALK: Acting as an executor can be challenging

There is a good chance that at some point, you will be asked to be an executor to someone’s estate — if you haven’t been asked already. The request may come from a spouse, a parent or a close friend, and you may be well inclined to accept. But do you know what the job entails?

The truth is, settling an estate can be a very complicated and time-consuming process. It can mean a deluge of responsibilities that could take years to carry out: managing investments, selling real estate, dealing with upset beneficiaries, even making funeral arrangements. And you may be trying to accomplish all of this while you yourself are mourning the loss of your loved one. What’s more, executors are personally liable, so it will be your responsibility to see to it that everything gets done properly.

According to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey conducted on behalf of RBC Estate and Trust Services, less than half (47%) of Canadians said they were familiar with what’s involved in being an executor of a Will. In fact, more than one quarter (27%) said they have no idea how long it will take.

If you’re considering, or have accepted, a request to be an executor for someone’s estate, there are some important considerations to bear in mind.

Executor duties are numerous

Whether it’s collecting life insurance, applying for death benefits, filing a tax return or making a probate application, the range and complexity of executor responsibilities can be daunting. In fact, depending on the size of the estate, there can be upward of 70 individual tasks expected of an executor, some of which can carry a liability risk.

Estates can take a very long time to settle

The survey also found that 37% of respondents believe the process will take less than six months and 54% estimate less than a year. But depending on the size and complexity of the estate, it can take anywhere from an average of 18 months, to up to four years.

You may be working through your own grief and sorrow

Dealing with the death of a loved one is often very difficult, and the added demands of settling that person’s estate can make the situation far more trying. Be sure to ask yourself how well you think you will be able to carry out your duties while in mourning yourself, and don’t be afraid to raise your concerns with the person who has asked you to be their executor.

Consider family dynamics

Don’t be shy to ask if there is existing family tension and to consider how a dispute among family members and friends may affect you. As the executor, you may have to deal with discontented beneficiaries, especially if the estate is unequally distributed.

You can seek help

If you feel uneasy about being named an executor or you don’t think you will be able to handle the responsibility effectively, you have options. If it is not something you feel you can turn down, but you still have concerns about dealing with all the duties involved, you can seek out professional assistance for some or all of your duties — whether that assistance is provided by a trust officer for a trust services company, a lawyer, or an accountant.

This article was supplied by Colin MacAskill CFP, CIM, a Vice-President and an Investment Advisor with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Member CIPF. If you need assistance with your executor duties, or to get a better understanding of the principal duties as an executor, we can help. Please contact us at (604) 257-7455 for more information.



We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

#UsedHelps: Connecting Business with Canadian Charities
Apartment vacancy rates drop, rents rise in Lower Mainland
Diesel stays stubbornly high amid crude oil drop
Charge against driver connected to fatal pedestrian collision on Como Lake Avenue
Check out the Christmas light displays in the Tri-Cities this weekend
Cuddy wraps up CP Holiday Train trip in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam
Cheesy restaurant is all about comfort food
CHART: Housing starts in Lower Mainland concentrated in Vancouver, Surrey and Richmond
Hunters protest shift favouring non-residents

Community Events, December 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Dec 19 edition online now. Browse the archives.