9360 34 Ave NW Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5X8

Choosing An Executor – What You Need To Know

Choosing An Executor – What You Need To Know
1 September 2022

A Will is a handy tool for people who want to give their money to their children, spouse, or other legal heirs after they die.

With a Will, the testator (the person making the Will) can make sure that her legal heirs don't fight after she dies, or at least make it less likely that they will. But making a Will is one of the things you need to do. Choosing the right executor is essential to ensure your Will is carried out.

Who is an Executor?

The person chosen to carry out a person's last wishes is called the executor of their estate. The executor's main job is to carry out the wishes and instructions of the person who has died.

If there was no previous appointment, the testator of the will (the person who makes the will) or a court chooses the executor.

How they do their jobs

The executor is responsible for ensuring that all of the assets listed in the will are found and given to the right people (parties). Assets can be things like stocks, bonds, investments in the money market, real estate, direct investments, or even collectibles like art. The Internal Revenue Code says that the executor has to figure out how much the estate is worth by using either the value at the time of death or a different date (IRC).

How do I pick an attorney?

Choose only those who are responsible

Responsibility is the essential trait your executor must have. To be an executor, you don't have to be a lawyer, a financial planner, or an accountant. You must be responsible enough to hire the right people to help you, take care of estate matters quickly, communicate well with beneficiaries, and make hard decisions when necessary. An executor is paid on a commission basis, so you may expect him to treat his task as seriously as if it were his own.

If you don't have responsible family members or friends, you can name an attorney, bank, accountant, or trust company as an executor. But these people usually charge extra for their services (like an accountant who charges extra to do tax returns for your estate) or ask for more money than a family member or friend.

Think about people who are doing well financially

The person you choose to be your executor needs to have enough money of his own. People who have a lot of creditors or liens against them, don't have a credit history, or have gone bankrupt are not good choices because they often can't get a bond.

"Bonding" is a type of insurance that many courts may require. It pays out money to the beneficiaries of an estate if the executor runs off with the money. If the bonding company thinks your choice of executor is a bad financial risk and won't give them a bond, the court probably won't let them be named.

At least one younger person will take over

It is not unheard of for a person to make only one will throughout their lifetime, and given that a will does not expire, your estate may be managed by a will over 40 years old. Things have the potential to shift significantly throughout that window of time.

Even though you only need to name one executor for your will to be considered valid, you should make an effort to name at least one healthy, younger successor executor who is likely to outlive you. This is important if you only write one will during your lifetime, and your first choice of executor either passes away before you do or decides not to serve as your executor.

You can do this by designating the individual or by making a provision in your will. Both of these options are available to you.

Don't worry; most of the time, location doesn't matter

An executor doesn't have to live nearby. Yes, they may prefer to come to your house in person to make sure your personal belongings are given to the right people and to meet with your estate's lawyer, but many of an executor's tasks can be done even without coming to your town. If your estate needs something done, like getting rid of the furniture in your apartment, your executor can probably hire a company to do it for her and pay someone to be there while the job is done.

An executor takes care of a person's last will, ensuring that the terms and wishes of the person who died are carried out. Usually, this means distributing the estate's assets, paying any due taxes, and taking care of any outstanding debts. People often put the name of the person who will handle their estate in their will before they die. If you don't name an executor, a probate court will choose one for you.