Whether you’ve been named the executor of someone’s will or you are drafting your last will and testament and need to choose one for your estate, keep in mind these essential qualities of an executor. Though every will needs an executor, not every person is prepared to be one.
For guidance on your specific situation, DBM’s wills and estates lawyers are available at our Vancouver, Langley, and Coquitlam law offices.
Put simply, an executor is the person who is chosen to act out the deceased’s wishes, as laid out in their will. Though simple on paper, being an executor is less so in practice.
An executor makes funeral arrangement, applies for probate, takes an inventory of the deceased’s belongings, pays any remaining debts, completes income tax returns, and distributes the estate to beneficiaries—to name just a few duties. Additionally it is important to remember that with large or multifaceted estates, executing a will can be a complicated process.
Often, an executor has a tax or legal background due to the nature of the work they must complete. However, just as often an executor has little experience in these areas and must learn as they go through the process.
Executing a complicated estate may require the services of lawyer. You can contact DBM’s Sechelt, Langley, or Coquitlam lawyers here.
2. An executor must be committed
From funeral arrangements to the final distribution of the estate, the executor is involved in each step of the process. Probate—the process of ensuring the will is legally valid—can happen quickly or take several months. Completing all necessary paperwork and distributing the estate can take just a few months, or, if the will is contested or another complication arises, the process can take several years.
As such, the executor may be involved with the estate for much longer than anticipated. This should be taken into consideration when both choosing an executor and when deciding to take on the duties of executor.
3. An executor must be impartial
Importantly, the executor’s duty is to the estate and the wishes of the testator and not to the beneficiaries.
If there is an action to vary the will under the Wills Variation Act—for example, if someone feels they have wrongly been left out of the will—the executor must remain impartial and not attempt to influence or choose sides in the case. Unsurprisingly, this becomes particularly complicated in cases where the executor is also a beneficiary, as can happen when a family member is named executor.
For expert guidance in choosing the executor of your estate, contact DBM’s wills and estates team at our Langley, Vancouver, or Coquitlam law offices.