Close-up of a hand holding a pen over a page from a will.

Being the executor of a will comes with an array of duties. Here is a brief summary of the main responsibilities of an executor in British Columbia.

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Locate the Will

If you have been named as an executor, start by locating the deceased person’s will to confirm your authority. Check for any more recent wills that may have replaced the old one. If you can’t find the original will, search the deceased’s personal files, home safe, safety deposit box, or check with their lawyer. If all else fails, perform a Wills Registry search through the BC Department of Vital Statistics to check for an official record of the will.

Make Funeral Arrangements

As the executor, you are legally responsible for decisions regarding the deceased’s final wishes regarding what happens to their body, such as cremation or burial. If you’ve found the will, check for specific funeral instructions and try to honour them as best as possible. The person instructing the funeral director is responsible for payment, but they can be reimbursed as a first charge against the deceased’s estate assets, as long as the expenses are reasonable. Obtain the original death certificate from the funeral home.

Apply for Probate if Required

Applying for probate involves submitting relevant documentation, such as the original will, to the appropriate court. The executor should familiarize themselves with the specific requirements of the jurisdiction in which probate is sought and may seek legal assistance if needed. This crucial step solidifies the executor’s authority to administer the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.

Pay Outstanding Debts & Taxes

It is your responsibility as executor of the will to settle any debts left behind by the deceased, as well as pay all outstanding taxes. These are to be paid using funds from the estate.

Notify Beneficiaries & Distribute Assets

As executor, you will need to notify all beneficiaries named in the will and supply them with a copy of the will. You will also need to distribute the assets among the beneficiaries, ensuring they get anything the deceased specified they should have.

Finalize the Estate

To finalize the estate, you will need to compile a comprehensive estate account upon the completion of the task. Seek approval from either the beneficiaries or the courts, and obtain a Clearance Certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the estate.

Being the executor of a will can be overwhelming. If you want help with the process, the lawyers at Munro & Crawford are always available to assist you.

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