These days, the estate planning process requires extensive planning and preparation as the average Canadian family has more wealth than ever being transferred down to the next generation. Unfortunately, it is also a topic that doesn’t get the attention it so importantly deserves. One of the many decisions faced during the estate planning process is who to appoint as the Executor.
Choosing an Executor
Choosing an executor is an immensely important decision as it decides who will carry out and implement the estate plan you have designed as your lasting legacy. While many people used to consider being appointed as the executor of a loved one or friend as an honor, many now shy away from the role. Being an executor can be an immense burden and the complexity of the tasks involved in the role can be overwhelming.
Typically, people will appoint a family member or friend to carry out their final legacies. While sometimes, this can be an ideal choice, often, it can result in adding pressure or stress on a loved one or friend during a difficult and emotional time. This can result in accidental errors or mistakes during the estate administration process, or potentially create undue family tension in cases where one family member was chosen instead of another, or when more than one family member is appointed and they are unable to make crucial decisions.
What Should My Families Consider?
To help avoid potential issues or conflicts in the estate administration process, careful consideration should be given to choosing the executor. Some of the key factors to consider are; age, available time, career demands, family and home life demands, geographical proximity, knowledge of tax and estate law, and many more. The age and location of family members may not make them ideal selections to act as an executor. If they do not live in the same province as their loved one when they pass away, they will have to post a large bond just to administer the estate – typically up to two times the value of the estate! Unless you have family with experience in tax, accounting or estate law, they may not have the required expertise to carry out all of the duties and responsibilities involved in being an executor. Not only does the role require strong acumen in this area, your executor can be liable for any errors or mistakes they make during the administration process almost indefinitely.
Who Should My Families Choose?
Typically, when a family comes to a funeral home, the decision about who will be the executor will already have been made. Where the opportunity exists, is when families come in for pre-need consultations. An easy way to add value without any extra cost is being well versed in some of the factors to consider, as well as being able to offer alternatives in choosing and appointing an executor. Don’t be a dead end to a family in need.
There are many services available that can help alleviate the burden of acting as an executor, for both after an executor has been appointed, and before the decision is made. Sometimes a person with no family or friends to appoint won’t know where to start and being aware of the options available to them can help them walk away with peace of mind as opposed to walking out more confused than when they came in.
There’s No More Free Option
Many people appoint family members as their executor because they don’t want to pay someone to do it. Historically, this was a safe bet. However, all executors are entitled to the same compensation and many more family members are taking compensation after experiencing the time, pressure and work involved.
Build a Network
As a funeral professional you don’t have be the expert on this subject, but being able to refer your families to someone who is, can go a long way in terms of providing superior service to a family in need.
Building up a referral network with professionals outside of the industry can be a great way to help your home gain additional calls from family’s in your area. A relationship with a trust company or law firm can be beneficial. Also, being remembered as the point of contact who was able to help a family through a confusing time, even before a funeral service is needed can be a great way to earn or improve a stellar reputation in your community.
While it isn’t a comfortable conversation to have, the right choice of executor can have a huge impact on the estate administration process. Although the duty may at first seem like an honor to people, once they actually realize the work involved, and liability attached to the role, it quickly becomes less desirable. FBA
Jeff Cocker began his career in the financial services industry with experience across multiple Canadian financial institutions. More recently he has specialized in the area of estate and trust administration, particularly in partnership with the funeral services profession. As an Account Representative at Legacy Private Trust, Jeff focusses on working with pre-need families who are in the process of drafting their Wills and looking for an appropriate executor. He also works with at-need executors who may need some assistance in carrying out the duties and responsibilities as an executor for a family member, friend or loved one. Please feel free to contact him directly with any comments or questions at 416-868-4261 or by email at [email protected].