What are the Duties of Canadian Estate Executors?
In regards to Duties of Canadian Estate Executors, Paul Mitassov, BASc, JD. Barrister and Solicitor, Notary Public, Paul Mitassov Law, reached out to discuss this question as a lawyer practicing in Toronto, Ontario.
The basic duties of an Executor (called the Estate Trustee in Ontario) of
the Estate are to administer the estate of the deceased: to collect of the
deceased’s assets, to pay off the deceased’s debts (if any), and to
distribute the remainder of the estate to the deceased’s beneficiaries, all
performed in accordance with the local laws and the deceased’s will (if they
The above duties may include a number of complexities in practice:
* The deceased may have a complex asset portfolio (more common among
the wealthy), or poorly-documented and hard to locate assets (quite common
* Until the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries, the executor
is responsible for administering and maintaining them. This can consume a
lot of time, especially if the assets include businesses, rental properties,
* The deceased may have poorly-documented debts.
* The Creditors may come knocking years later; the Executor(s) could
find themselves liable for these, unless they take certain steps to protect
* Tax returns will need to be prepared as the taxes are also a
liability of the estate.
* The beneficiaries may be unclear or difficult to locate (most common
in cases with missing or poorly-drafted wills)
* In some cases the Executor may need to ask the court for directions.
This takes time and money.
* The beneficiaries may dispute the validity of the will, the asset
distribution, and the executor’s actions.
* Estate litigation consumes significant time and money.
* Detailed accounts will need to be kept to protect the Executor from
* The Executor will also need to perform several legal steps, such as
getting appointed, dealing with the probate process, and having the court
approve their interim and/or final accounts.
* Executors are usually expected to make any necessary funeral
arrangements. Funeral expenses are a liability of the estate, and can be
* The will may impose additional duties on the Executor, especially if
the instructions are complicated.
* The will may create testamentary trusts, which will take some time
to properly establish.
* All Executors should obtain legal and accounting advice as soon as
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Jarrett Goldman, CPC