Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences anyone can go through. The steps that come after a loved one passes away can be just as difficult—and much more complex. Being named the executor of someone’s estate is a solemn duty, but for Ontarians with little experience navigating the worlds of law and finance, it can be exhausting just trying to figure out where to start.
If you’ve been named as the executor of someone’s estate, Lees & Lees recommends you seek the advice of an Ontario lawyer experienced in wills estates to give you the clearest picture of your duties in this complex situation. However, reading this article is a great way to familiarize yourself with the steps to take when given the responsibility of settling someone’s estate. If you have questions, feel free to call Lees & Lees for further advice.
What Is an Executor?
The executor of an estate is a legal role that an individual will take on after someone’s death. The word designates someone who has become an estate trustee with the duty to execute, or fulfill, the wishes expressed in a deceased person’s last will and testament.
After someone dies, the sum total of their assets and debts becomes their estate. It is the job of the executor to pay off debts and distribute the remaining assets, whether in the form of cash, real estate, or in valuables, to the beneficiaries named in the will.
What Are the Duties of the Executor?
The duties of the executor can be complicated and wide-ranging. Generally, they break down into the following:
Sourcing the final, official version of the deceased’s will and submitting it to probate
Preparing an inventory of all the belongings, assets, and debts of the estate
Closing the deceased’s bank account and opening an estate account
Publishing notices informing the public of the closing of the estate
Identifying the heirs as designated in the probated will
Selling property and valuables in order to cover debts of the estate
Paying all taxes and debts as required by Ontario law
Preparing a report, called a final account, for the heirs
Distributing the remaining property, valuables, and assets as instructed by the will
Some of these steps can be more difficult than others. Multiple versions of a will may exist, and it won’t always be obvious which is the ‘official’ version.
Lees & Lees recommends that anyone named as the executor of a will seek out legal advice from a law firm in Ontario experienced in dealing with estates and trusts. Navigating the complex world of estate and trust law can be extremely difficult for the average person. Not only does mismanagement of an estate leave you open to financial risk, but it can also create additional emotional turmoil for the family of the deceased.
Trust Lees & Lees for Help With Your Executor Duties
Named as someone’s executor and not sure what to do next? Pick up the phone and dial Lees & Lees. With lawyers specializing in estates, wills, and trusts, we’ll help you perform your duties and guide you every step of the way. Call us now to set up a consultation.
Let us help you with expert advice and legal solutions