When you agree to serve as executor or personal representative of a will in BC, you agree to assume all responsibility for the proper administration of the will in all respects. What does this really mean? It means you agree to take on all of the following duties during the probate process and through the distribution of assets to beneficiaries:
1. Asset Possession and Protection
As the will executor or personal representative, you will be responsible for protecting and maintaining all of the deceased party’s assets until they are properly disbursed to beneficiaries. This includes the deceased party’s home and personal belongings.
2. Debt Payment
You will be responsible for identifying all outstanding debts of the deceased party and releasing payment from the estate.
3. Investment Management
You will be responsible for taking final action on all of the deceased party’s investments.
4. Asset Insurance
You will be responsible for renewing or purchasing insurance policies for assets under your control. Do not cancel these policies because the assets need continued coverage while you are responsible for them.
5. Activity Documentation
You will be responsible for documenting all of your activities as an administrator of the will. This covers your hind end and gives reassurance to others concerned about the will.
6. Business Management
You will be responsible for the proper management of the deceased party’s business, if applicable. The well being of the business is in your hands until it is formally transferred to the care of the appropriate beneficiaries.
You will be responsible for notifying all financial institutions and organizations involved with the deceased party that he or she has passed away. This may include notifying tenants of investment property and other parties in business with the deceased party in some manner.
You will be responsible for arranging professional appraisals to determine the value of all assets in the estate.
9. Will-Specific Duties
You may be responsible for other duties specific to your will and the probate process.
You can be compensated for all expenses required to properly execute the will. You may also receive a fee for the time you spend serving as executor of the will.
Should You Hire a Solicitor?
A solicitor can be hired to assist with all legal duties when you are assigned the role of executor of a will. This can be done as a form of guidance or to free yourself from worrying about carrying out your duties correctly.
Solicitors utilize your input and information you possess, but they bring their own knowledge and experience to the table as well. A solicitor can be a tremendous asset when it comes to locating and communicating with beneficiaries, creditors, and financial institutions. A solicitor is also a powerful resource when it comes to creating documents and documenting your work.
The downside to hiring a solicitor is giving up the payment you would otherwise receive for your duties as executor. This is only fair, since you are not actually completing the work but are handing it off to someone more knowledgeable. The solicitor will be compensated by the estate, so you do not have to pay them out of your own pocket.
Renouncing Executor Appointment
If you do not want to serve as the executor of a will and do not want to hire a solicitor to take over the duties on your behalf, you can submit a statement in writing to the court to decline the appointment. An estate lawyer can assist with this (or you can do it on your own).