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The Estate Trustee (also known as the executor) is the person appointed in an individual’s will to carry out the instructions in the will. As this role requires much time and effort, the person so appointed should be chosen with great care. The duties of an estate trustee include:

  1. arranging for the funeral and burial of the deceased;
  2. preparing a detailed inventory of estate assets;
  3. retaining a lawyer to advise and assist in the administration of the estate;
  4. preparing and filing the deceased’s tax returns and paying any tax due;
  5. maintaining proper accounts;
  6. distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the will and paying any debts; and
  7. setting up and administering trusts established by the will. In light of the duties to be performed, an estate trustee’s traits should include:
  1. being close to where you live, so that duties can be performed efficiently and inexpensively;
  2. having administrative skills and judgment.
  3. being cooperative and communicative, particularly if they are not a member of your family.
  4. being honest and financially responsible, as they will be dealing with your assets and investments.

Some people name a trust company as an estate trustee to take advantage of the experience of the staff, especially where the estate is complex, the availability of investment, tax and accounting expertise, its permanence, especially for long trust periods and stability, where there are negative family dynamics.

Any trust set out in your will being administered by a non-resident estate trustee becomes a non-resident trust. They are taxed differently and possibly subject to taxation laws in the jurisdiction where the estate trustee resides. The Court will generally require an estate trustee non-resident to Ontario to obtain a bond before granting a Certificate of Appointment.

One should always ask a person’s permission before appointing them as estate trustee as a matter of courtesy and to better ensure they will act in the role at the relevant time.

Please contact Andrea P. Kelly for further information, including about estate administration in general.

Download the PDF: Concepts Newsletter – Summer 2011

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