If You Are an Ontario Executor Beware These Danger Signs

Everyone has an estate horror story to tell. And every estate is different. That is why executor checklists do not protect Ontario executors. I am starting a new series about dangers that Ontario Executors must be aware of to avoid trouble.

If you are a first-time executor, one danger is thinking there’s not much to do. Instead of making executor duties a priority, you take it easy. You forget there are deadlines to pay taxes. It can take months to get wills probated to be able to pay bills. You need to learn the dangers before they happen.

Here is the first in the series of executor warning signs of danger ahead.

1. You Underestimate How Much Time and Work Is Involved

Annie thought being an executor for her aunt Veronica’s estate would be simple. Annie thought she’d have plenty of time to organize things. Annie was planning a vacation and would start her estate work when she got back.

Annie remembered when her uncle David died. Aunt Veronica then told Annie there was very little estate work as David and Veronica held assets jointly. All she had to do was remove David’s name from a joint bank account.

However, Annie’s work on Veronica’s estate is not the same. Annie needs to have Veronica’s will court certified. She can’t get access to Veronica’s bank account or sell her investments until that is done.

Veronica’s will may create problems. The will is over 20 years old. The lawyer who prepared it is deceased and the witnesses to the will can’t be found. Annie is not sure the will she has is valid.

Veronica left everything to 11 beneficiaries including 2 charities that no longer exist. Veronica’s will causes more headaches than Annie anticipated. Annie must locate relatives that have not been seen since Uncle David’s funeral years ago.

Luckily Veronica’s funeral was prearranged. Annie still feels overwhelmed. She is now back from her vacation. She is getting calls from Veronica’s caregivers asking when they will be paid.

Executors Must Certify (Probate) the Original Last Will

Annie was told she needs witnesses to file papers in court to certify the will. Without signed documents from witnesses, Annie is told she cannot certify Veronica’s last will.

In Ontario this process is called applying for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee with a will. This estate certificate from the court allows Annie to collect and sell estate assets.
Overcome by her confusing thoughts, Annie asks friends for advice. They tell her to search for answers online. Some websites Annie reads do not help. They are based on United States inheritance laws. Annie is more confused. Does she need to be appointed Ontario estate trustee with a will and not executor?

Online Estate Information is Not Advice

Scared of making mistakes, Annie waits. She does nothing. The beneficiaries start calling and demanding answers. What was Annie doing? What’s taking so long? Has she hired a lawyer to probate Veronica’s will?

Annie learned of the dangers of sitting back and doing nothing. Delay can be dangerous if deadlines are missed. Someone must protect Veronica’s money and property.
What Annie needs is legal advice from an estate lawyer. She needs to understand her duties to protect Veronica’s estate – and herself as executor. She needs help to validate the will and prepare an estate inventory.

Since 1978 I have helped executors eliminate their worries.

I can guide you so you don’t waste your time. You can act with confidence. Maintaining good relations with beneficiaries is important. They must approve Annie’s fees for acting as estate executor.

Making a good first impression is always important. I can help first time Ontario executors. Contact me.