Choosing Ontario Executors: Don’t Let These Common Superstitions Trick You

Are you making a will and need to choose your executor? You’ll probably talk to your friends about who they chose. Get ready to hear some of these common superstitions. Friends may tell you their good luck or bad luck stories. But don’t think their superstitions pass as wisdom. At first glance they can make some sense. I’ll explain why you should not always follow folklore.

Here are 5 common executor folklore/superstitions about choosing executors. I posed them as questions to give you answers.

Following one of these superstitions is not automatically a bad omen. You can’t link future success or failure to superstitions. You cannot predict the future. Every family is different. You need to choose wisely.

1. Can you trust relatives with your money?

Folks often claim you need someone independent of family to handle your estate. They sing the praises of having a neutral or professional executor. Is this always the best case?

In some cases you can’t trust relatives, grieving or otherwise. But that does not apply to every family. There are pros and cons to using neutral professionals as your executors.

Neutrals have their own biases. They may be impartial but have a vested interest in asking for the job.

Third party executors usually want an executor’s fee. Family may not claim any fees. Professional executors can charge 3% to 5 % of your estate. This can be a chunk in some estates.

Your spouse or children may prefer to save this money for themselves.

Professional executors may not be suitable for small estates.

2. Are your financial advisors the best executors?

Sure, your financial advisors know you and your investments. They can be cool and calm discussing crude oil prices.  But will they be as collected dealing with your dysfunctional relatives and your treasured collections?

They can usually make more money doing what they know best – investing money. They may prefer managing your investments to handling your family dynamics.

Advisors may not want to get involved with funerals, relatives and spendthrift family members.  You don’t need a half-hearted, inexperienced executor.

Advisors, if they are still managing your investments, will have conflicts of interest. Be careful. Your family needs more than money managers to cope with your loss.

3. Should you only listen to your family when choosing executors?

Get others involved is this decision-making process. Remember even family members have a bias and agendas. Ultimately, you want advice from independent professionals.

Consider getting advice from your banker. They may suggest a trust company as your Ontario executors for safety reasons.

4. Are you required to choose your firstborn child as executor?

There is no such rule in common law jurisdictions. This may apply back home in the old country. The eldest child may have automatic inheritance rights that parents believe they must follow. Such birthrights may be a cultural but not a legal rule in Ontario.

5. Can you always trust your spouse as executor?

Spouses can be beneficiaries and also executors. This makes sense unless you have divorced or are considering separating.

Spouses can have conflicts of interest and also make claims against your estate. This would disqualify them from serving as executor. Make sure you have a backup executor in your will.

Name Executors in Your Will to Protect Your Money

If you don’t know who should be your executor, then you’re not alone. You may not have capable family members in Ontario. You can’t imagine who would handle your affairs.

When I ask clients in my law office “Why didn’t you make a will sooner?” Many people say, “I could not find the right executor.”

Be honest. Is that why you don’t have a will? Or perhaps you have other superstitions stopping you.

Well, if you are in that boat, I can help you to:  

•        choose competent executors

•        understand what executors must do

•        identify what qualities to look for in executors

Consult a Lawyer

Do you need a consultation about your executor choices?  Contact me now.   

About Edward Olkovich

Executors facing estate challenges call Ed Olkovich,who is a Toronto estate lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts Law. Ed is also an author and edits Carswell’s legal guide Compensation and Duties of Estate Trustees, Guardians and Attorneys. He has resolved estate disputes and probate problems since 1978. You can read my free report on the executor journey. Learn what is expected from your executor.