Choosing the right executor

A bad executor for your will can waste your time & money

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Q: I have to choose an executor for my will. What qualities should I look for and should it be a family member?

—Nick P., Waterloo, Ont.

A: Choosing executors is an important decision everyone needs to make. Costly mistakes can hurt your family and your money. And getting rid of rotten or hostile executors is difficult and expensive. So you need to protect your loved ones from bad executors. They can rob your estate, destroy your family and cause costly legal battles.

Why? Because bad executors can waste your life’s savings. Trustworthy family members, even those without experience, are good choices. Why? Because family members are:

  • Also beneficiaries;
  • Won’t ask to be paid;
  • Will act efficiently and economically.

And for tax reasons, your executors need to reside in Canada.

10 tips for choosing an executor wisely

  1. Family comes first—unless you have good reasons to avoid them. Still, make sure you ask them if they want the job.
  2. You name executors in your will, which is a legal document you sign. You cannot do it any other way.
  3. Always include a backup executor if your first choice is not available.
  4. Don’t name someone much older than you. Health and willingness to work are important.
  5. Persons who live nearby are better. They can act quickly.
  6. Trustworthiness is more important than expertise. Executors need honesty, not experience.
  7. Get advice for your choices from lawyers with estate experience.
  8. Trust companies are excellent choices for complex estates. They may also be the only safe long-term solution.
  9. The executor you choose today may be the wrong choice tomorrow. Continue to review your choice of executors.
  10. When it comes to numbers, two executors may be better than one. More than two is difficult to manage.

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Ed Olkovich is a Toronto lawyer and certified specialist in Estate and Trusts Law


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