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Private Trust

Duties of an Executor


The deceased's Will is the legally binding expression of that person's wishes for the distribution of his or her property. Your responsibility as executor or executrix is to administer the estate and carry out those wishes.

As executor/executrix, you control all aspects of the estate's administration. This extends from identifying and protecting the deceased's assets, to distributing those assets to the beneficiaries. As executor/executrix, you are legally accountable to the beneficiaries.

Executor Duties

A helpful reference is the 'checklist' of principal tasks.

1. Immediate issues

There are many things that require your immediate attention. These include:

  • finding and reviewing the most recent Will
  • arranging the funeral
  • determining if any family members have immediate financial needs
2. Protecting the estate

Your role includes identifying the deceased's assets and protecting them until final distribution. For example, you may need to:

  • arrange for the care of any vacant property
  • arrange for safe custody of personal valuables and important documents
  • cancel club memberships, health insurance, subscriptions, credit cards, etc.
  • ensure adequate property insurance exists
3. Valuing the estate

Once the estate has been identified, it needs to be valued. This may include:

  • developing a full valuation of household goods, furniture, artwork, automobiles and other personal effects
  • determining benefits due under insurance policies and pension plans
  • preparing a detailed inventory of assets and liabilities
4. Tax issues

While neither the federal nor the provincial government imposes direct death duties, there are several tax issues that arise when a person dies. As a result, you will need to:

  • determine capital gains at the date of death
  • contact relevant jurisdictions if foreign assets were held
  • make the various elections permitted under federal and provincial laws
  • prepare and file final income tax returns and request clearance certificates
5. Administration and distribution

In addition, you will be required to clear the estate and distribute the assets. This may include:

  • arranging for probate of the Will, if necessary
  • settling all claims and debts
  • investing surplus cash and managing the investments to ensure that enough money is available to pay income tax and other liabilities
  • delivering personal property which was bequeathed and obtaining receipts
  • discharging any bank or private loans, mortgages or other liabilities
  • paying any legacies and other bequests
  • distributing the assets to the beneficiaries
  • preparing a full accounting of the estate's administration and submitting it to the beneficiaries

Resources for Executors

Our Estate and Trust Specialists would be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you would like to learn more about our services or arrange a meeting with one of our Specialists, please contact the Estates and Trusts branch nearest you by consulting our Private Trust Branch Directory.