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What should you do once you are named an Executor?

A loved one has passed away and you have been named the Executor. This is an important responsibility but one that will carry stress. Knowing where to start and actually doing so can be confusing.

As the executor, your first duty is to locate the deceased’s will. This will not only be the document that gives you authority to act, it will give you a clear indication of how you are to proceed. Once this is in hand you will be able to move forward.

There will be many small tasks that you will want to accomplish. You may want a Death Certificate; most often the one that the funeral director will provide you will be satisfactory for the remaining tasks. Next you will want to inform the Canada Pension Plan as well as the Old Age Security offices. Most funeral homes will help you with this, but it is something that you should be aware of and make sure that they in fact follow through on contacting the agencies.

After contacting the government agencies, you will want to cancel a litany of things. Any active credit cards should be cancelled as soon as possible. In addition to this, you will want to cancel magazine and newspaper subscriptions, gym or other memberships, utilities, cable, etc. Essentially you will want to stop payments on any expense that is unnecessary following the deceased’s death.

After cancelling the unnecessary expenses, you will want an understanding of the financial health of the estate. For this you will also want to locate and contact all banking, insurance and financial advising institutions that the deceased dealt with and get a detailed accounting of their accounts.

You will also want to take control of all cash and valuable assets owned by the deceased. These assets along with the bank accounts are likely to make up a majority of the estate.

You will want to make an inventory of all the valuables and then contact a lawyer that will help you with the final settling of the estate which will include contacting all the beneficiaries, filing the paperwork into court, setting out the proper notices and other steps.

Some assets may be simple, some can be complicated and contentious. All estates can expose an executor to liability. It is strongly recommended that executors obtain advice from professional accountants and lawyers.

As lawyers we are here to ease your stress and guide you through the process. Therefore, once you have set a meeting we will identify any steps that we still need from you and help guide you to the finish line.

Notice: The articles on our website are provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or opinion. They reflect the current state of the law as at the date of posting on the website, and are subject to change without notice. If you require legal advice or opinion, we would be pleased to provide you with our assistance on any of the issues raised in these articles.