The responsibility of the Executor of an estate sounds like something that is straightforward:
- Take control of the Estate and make a list of the property
- Obtain the original copies of the will
- Arrange the funeral or memorial
- Apply to the Court for letters of probate or administration
- Administer the Estate and pay outstanding debts
- Distribute the property according to the Estate Planner’s wishes as set out in the will
There is a hint that it might be more complicated than the initial impression in Google, which says that in Canada the most time middle class estates will take is 12 – 18 months. That timeline depends on a myriad of factors beginning with how well the Executor ‘s capabilities match those needed for the role, and the individual’s ability to take them on.
The selection of the Executor is often based on a relationship with the spouse/significant other, with children and siblings at the top of the list of chosen Executors. Because the Executor role is usually being carried out by an individual who is also dealing with grief and loss, it can be overwhelming.
The choice of Executor is often based on family dynamics rather than on the knowledge, skill and ability necessary to do the job. Even simple estates require a good sense of tax and legal requirements and financial management, along with the skills required of a Project Manager.
Both the Estate Planner and the potential Executor must think about and include those two important considerations in their decisions about the role.