Estate Trustee (Executorship) Duties Are Challenging Work

A sound estate plan involves several aspects. Usually it involves finding better ways to organize so the cost to transfer your property to your heirs happens minimum costs, and greatest speed.  That ends up enclosed in a will. While that seems a reasonable course of action, the executor choice often needs more care. The plan is strategic and tactical, but the executor will be the one who executes it.

Execution is more difficult, and error prone than most people realize.

Things to consider

Do they know how? Have they done it before? If yes, how did that work out?

Will the executor be close enough and have the time to devote to the duties of executor?

Does the executor have knowledge of the testator’s values and more subtle intentions? Not everything can fit into a a will. This special knowledge will help resolve issues around family heirlooms, businesses, second spouse issues, and many more. Wills are words and lack texture.

Is the executor aware of particular issues with heirs? If there are, trust provisions may exist in the will and may require a lengthy commitment of time by the estate trustees.

Should the executor be aware of their potential duties prior to the death of the testator? What would be reasonable?

Will a professional executor save money, time, and be able to keep order better?

Does the executor have any conflict with the executor duties? Business partners may have trouble being objective or appearing to be objective.

Other things to think about in your planning

Do you need more than one will. Not difficult, and there can be cost saving or administrative advantage.

Do you have assets in other jurisdictions and is the will you do at home be valid there?

Does it satisfy the requirements of the family law act in terms of reasonable support?

The takeaway

Estate plans include more than distribution plans.

The will, no matter the trouble to create, is not an estate plan. It is the agreement that may or may not arise as the result of an estate plan.

Do not assume it will work. For any but the most simple estates, a pro forma probate can provide some interesting outcomes.

Commit to reviewing your plan and will at reasonable intervals. Your circumstances change, your wishes may change, what the heirs want and need may change, the law may change.

Teat every will you do as the last will you do. Sooner or later, you’ll do such a will.


I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com

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