Family Says It All When You Name Your Ontario Executors

Should you always name family as your executor?

That depends if your family is capable. You may also want to reconsider using family as executors if they:

  • can’t be trusted to get along
  • are stepchildren from other relationships
  • struggle with financial difficulties
  • live out of the country
  • will dispute your wishes after you are gone
  • would prefer impartial executors handle everything
  • have not been involved in the family business

What if, like Terrible Tony, (see my previous post) your business executor becomes hostile or spends your money like water?

Why Choosing Family As Executors Can Be A Mistake

Choosing family members to act as your executor is often a no-brainer. It seems like the easiest estate planning decision you could make. After all, won’t family get all your stuff anyway?

Why would they fight over anything, like figurines in your China cabinet or grandma’s recipe book? No need to think this through any further. 

“Next question, please, Ed,” you might say.

Automatically choosing a family member without considering your options is where problems can start.

Let’s consider the pros and cons of choosing relatives.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Which family member can handle the job?
  • What skills/experience does my family member need?
  • Will family expect to be paid?
  • When the time comes, will my chosen relative be available?
  • Can two or more family members work together as executors?

Executors control when your family receives their inheritance. Bad executors can waste your money and ruin your legacy.

The right executor avoids conflicts, comforts your family, and controls costs. They pay your taxes on time and manage your estate without problems.

Bad executors trigger family conflicts and do not resolve them.

Some parents put clauses in their wills wishing their children would not argue. This is like thinking that wishing makes things happen, or as the proverb goes: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” This may be a case where you need to consider a neutral executor to complete your will instructions.

Should Family Always Be Your Executor?

Most people do choose family members for the job. But what are the most important qualities for these relatives to have? Do you choose the family member who is the most:

  • educated
  • financially secure   
  • honest

Is that all that goes into the decision-making process? I am afraid not.

You’ll want to consider if your choice of executor can:

  • manage family dynamics
  • respond to beneficiaries’ needs
  • work together with co-executors
  • be neutral in blended families
  • handle the paperwork for more than one year

Family members often put their own interests ahead of others. As executors, they must put the estate’s interest before their own. Otherwise, they have a conflict of interest that leads to trouble.

Be sure to ask family members if they will be your executor. You may discover they are afraid. They don’t know what the job entails. They may not want to run the family business either. They may want you to explain their duties, especially if you have multiple wills with different executors.  

You should not assume family members are always the best executors.

Want to know what Ontario executor duties are? Download my free report “Suddenly You’re An Ontario Executor: Start Your Estate Journey Here.”

Need help reviewing your choice of executor?

Contact me to discuss your needs 

About Edward Olkovich BA, LL.B, LLM, C.S., TEP

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. © 2020