7 Qualities of a Good Executor/Trustee & Planned Estate

personal estate executor trustee Ontario

Whether you are an Executor/Trustee (E/T) or looking to ask someone to take on the responsibility for your Estate, the personal qualities necessary for both are very similar. When a potential customer asks me if I would consider being their E/T, I interview them just as they have interviewed me. So here is an abbreviated list of what I consider to be the 7 qualities of an ideal customer and an ideal E/T.

1. Organized
2. Pro-active versus reactive
3. Open to discussing all aspects of what is needed
4. Doesn’t like surprises
5. Wants to move quickly
6. A decision maker
7. Respectful, polite

As an E/T for a number of customers I have an additional list of “must-haves”:

  • Has a pre-paid funeral plan in place. See my associate Kat Downey’s link for details regarding this service
  • Has given me the contact details for:
    • beneficiaries
    • essential family
    • friends and business associates
  • Meets or communicates with me periodically regarding changes i.e. assets, passwords, addendums to Will
  • Be within my geographical service boundaries
  • Informs family or business associates about me and my responsibilities

Being an E/T is also about developing a relationship. It can be cut and dry – this is the Will, this is what needs to be done on my passing. But that’s not the way I work. Yes there are rules and laws that have to be adhered to, but there’s also respect for a life lived. I need to know about what’s important to the person whose Estate I’ll be responsible for. I need to understand the details of the Will, and the intentions, which aren’t always easily identified. It’s also important to know the family dynamics. Things like:

  • Do the siblings get along?
  • Have individuals asked for an advance on the potential Estate?
  • Has someone been specifically left out of the Will who may want to cause problems?

Sad to say these examples occur frequently, along with a sense of entitlement.

A good E/T needs to be unbiased in their actions and communication – removing themselves from the family friction and getting the job done. Preserving the Estate and if possible increasing the value is also necessary.

Are you up for the job, or need someone that is? If you want a complete list of the ideal customer-E/T characteristics, along with those for Power of Attorney – Property, please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to send it to you. You can connect with me by leaving a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


Patience Required When Acting as Estate Executor/Trustee (E/T)

personal estate executor Ontario

I am currently acting as the Estate Executor for a widower. Almost all of his substantial estate was kept in investments in the four major banks and one securities investment company. There are numerous lists indicating the qualities that a good E/T should have, and I’ve even written a few of them. But one of the key qualities that is now noticeably missing from the lists is patience! Every good and effective E/T must possess a great deal of patience. Continue reading

Power of Attorney – Rising Incidence of Elder Abuse

POA for Personal Care

Almost weekly I come across an article or presentation about the rising incidence of Elder Abuse in our society. Police forces have programs to educate the public. Senior’s organizations and advocacy groups are becoming more vocal in helping to identify the warning signs and offering support. If you’ve given a relative or friend Power of Attorney (POA) for Personal Care or Property could you also be giving power to potential abusers? Or if you are the person with the responsibility of a POA do you understand your responsibilities and expectations, or could someone interpret what you’re doing as abusive? Continue reading

Estate Executor/Trustee Compensation or Fees

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There are a number of considerations when determining and paying Estate Executor/Trustee (ET) Compensation, also known as a Fee.

The responsibilities of an ET are numerous and can be very time consuming. Some of the responsibilities require immediate attention, while others can take months or years to settle. Funeral arrangements, sale of a house, handling investments, preparation of tax returns, locating beneficiaries and dealing with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are just a few of the basic requirements in administering the estate. And during this time accurate and extensive records must be kept with all pertinent documentation. As the ET or Administrator you are entitled to compensation, which the court has developed as a guideline of 5% of the value of the estate in Ontario. But that’s not to say the ET can’t request an additional amount if the work and time involved has been beyond the normal scope of managing the estate. The court can also rule against the full 5% requested by the ET if it is deemed too much. The Superior Court of Justice will have input, along with some of the named Beneficiaries. Continue reading

What is a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee?

responsibilities of estate trustee

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In my last blog post, I discussed the responsibilities of being an estate trustee and even though this will be my final installment relating to my friendship and position of Trustee for the Estate of Myrtle, the story is long from finished. I am currently waiting for the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee. This is a document issued by the court which gives me the authority to administer the provisions of Myrtle’s Will. Since I need to apply through the Toronto court system the wait time is approximately 3 months from application to approval. Continue reading

Executor/Trustee Responsibilities – Continuing my Journey with Myrtle

estate executor OntarioIn my last blog post, I introduced my client Myrtle. My responsibility of Executor/Trustee for Myrtle’s estate was only a part of my relationship with this wonderful woman. My journey with her developed from our first conversation in 2008 and even in her 91st year I knew she was a lady that continued to be very aware of politics, what was going on in her community and how to stretch a dollar.  She made sure she read the weekly flyers to see what was on special for that week and was frustrated that the sales at Shoppers Drug Mart didn’t start until Saturday when all the others started on Friday.  She walked or took the bus everywhere she wanted to go.  She thought taxis were too expensive no matter how bad the weather was. Continue reading

Personal Estate Executor Decisions – My Journey with Myrtle

personal estate executor Ontario

My journey first started with Myrtle in the late spring of 2008. Myrtle had asked her financial planner to take a look at her 2007 tax return. She couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting a larger refund. She always got a refund. And since she made quarterly tax installments she knew something wasn’t right. The financial planner told Myrtle he took his client’s tax returns to a professional and thought it would be a good idea if she took a look at it to see if there was an error. That someone was me.

Myrtle had done her tax returns herself every year. She typed her copy and the CRA copy – no photocopier or carbon paper was used. She was old school and when I say “old school”, Myrtle was in her 90th year of life. I took a look at her return, compared it to the Notice of Assessment she had received from the CRA and all the numbers were exact. I then went through all her paperwork which was extensive, and determined where the error was. She had forgotten to include her generous donations in her calculations that year. Continue reading

What is a Non-Continuing Power of Attorney?

Non Continuing Power of AttorneyThis is the time of year when many of my business customers give me what is called a  Non-Continuing Power of Attorney. These are smart business people that realize they may be delayed in returning to their businesses when on vacation or at conferences. While either the long or short delay on returning could be attributed to bad weather or health issues, they still have a business that needs to operate at the effectiveness and efficiency as if they were there. So what is a Non-Continuing Power of Attorney? Continue reading

Passing of Accounts – Be Careful How You Conduct Yourself

estate executor and trustee responsibilitiesAccording to duhaime.org, the Passing of Accounts legal definition is; The formal presentation of a trustee’s accounts to a court for approval. Recently a long-time bookkeeping client came to me with a problem. Her father had named her in his Will to be his Executor/Trustee. There were 5 beneficiaries, including my client. The reason she needed the Estate records brought up to date is due to a court order requesting the Passing of Accounts. One of the beneficiaries was questioning how the funds were handled and disbursed. The key message in this blog post – Be careful how you conduct yourself.

A couple of lawyers she approached to represent her in this court procedure refused, based on the state her documentation was in. It wasn’t until she indicated to a potential attorney that a professional (me) was pulling all the information together, that she located someone to defend the accusations made against her. Continue reading

Give the Gift of Safeguarding Your Legacy – 7 Things to Consider

estate and personal executors OntarioOne of the last things on the minds of anyone at this time of year is Wills and Powers of Attorney. The Holiday rush has begun and with all of the planning and events in the works, who wants to think about ticking off items on an estate planning checklist? Not many people do, but there are a few bare-bone estate planning basics that everyone could benefit from that are especially important for singles and new families that can give the gift of safeguarding your legacy. Specifically, what can you do to prepare an estate plan? Here are 7 things to consider. Continue reading