The Executor Roadmap

Your Simple Guide to Avoiding Costly Mistakes on Your Estate Journey

The Executor Roadmap helps you reduce stress, focus your time and efforts. Handling another person’s money puts tremendous responsibility on you. Take heart. Most executors have no experience. But you need professional guidance to complete your duties.

The Executor Roadmap is based on my experience advising executors at each stage of their estate journey. I have seen costly mistakes that could have been avoided. Often executors pay from their own pockets for these mistakes. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid trouble.

As executor, you keep records, hire experts, handle paperwork, beneficiaries, relatives and lawyers. Your duties go beyond what is written in the will. But be careful. Don’t let beneficiaries rush you to distribute estate assets without legal advice. They do not understand your journey and tasks could take 1-2 years.

Use my three-stage executor roadmap to navigate your estate journey. Read stage one.

Here are your objectives for the second Stage of your journey.

Second Stage – Probating the Will

Step 4: Choose your estate lawyer carefully to probate wills.

Information from any website is not legal advice. Estate lawyers provide legal services to probate wills. Estate lawyers can answer your technical and legal questions about probate. Making mistakes now can delay paying everyone and closing the estate. You need specialized help if the will is contested. Legal claims can be made against estates months after probate starts. Claims can come from spouses, dependants or creditors.

Probate provides you with estate certificates that allow you to collect and sell estate assets. Probate involves paying Ontario’s estate administration (probate) taxes. This provincial tax is calculated on 1.5% of values in your estate inventory. This Ontario tax is paid for estate certificates even if there is no will.

 Step 5: Sell assets once courts confirm your authority.

Your authority is confirmed in estate certificates. You use certificates to collect assets and sell real estate. Executors are also called estate trustees with a will in Ontario. If there is no will, Ontario courts appoint estate trustees without a will. In some jurisdictions, you are referred to as estate personal representatives.

When there are co-executors, all decisions must be unanimous. If you have a conflict with your co-executor, you may need separate lawyers. You are responsible for your co-executor’s conduct.

Step 6: File all required income tax returns.

Identify tax filing requirements and deadlines as soon as possible. Get qualified estate tax advice. Filing incorrect income tax returns can create delays, penalties and interest charges. You can be responsible for these items out of your own pocket. Income earned after the date of death is filed in estate tax returns.

File all outstanding tax returns to request income tax clearance certificates. Continue reading why you need tax clearances in stage three.

Now you are getting ready to wind up or close the estate in Stage three.

Let me know if you find my Executor Roadmap helpful.

Need executor help? I have helped executors since 1978. I wrote Executor Kung Fu, which is the world’s first self-defense guide for executors. I can help you. Contact me now.