Checklist: Executor’s Duties

This checklist provides a general overview of executor’s duties designed to assist the estate trustee in dealing with the complexities of estate administration.

√ Initial Work

The executor’s first steps are to make funeral/burial arrangements, obtain the Funeral Director’s Proof of Death and the deceased’s identification, bank and credit cards, collect the Last Will, any codicils, valuables needing safekeeping, notify the next of kin and deceased’s financial institution(s), locate the safety deposit box and obtain financial statements. 

√ Meet with Legal Counsel

Bring to the appointment all the legal documents and financial information collected. The lawyer will assess the file to ensure the executor understands his duties and personal liability, identify potential conflicts, assess any contractual obligations or support obligations the deceased had, determine if the deceased has any outstanding litigation, determine whether to purchase executor insurance, and outline relevant times.  (e.g., dependant relief claims, income tax deadlines).

√ Application to Court for Appointment

Your lawyer can assist with and apply for the court application for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee and determine the estate administration tax due. Your lawyer will review documents, serve the appropriate parties and obtain originals and notarial copies of the certificate.  Determine of executor insurance should be obtained.

√ Contact Beneficiaries

Provide a process overview and document any meetings and information provided. If there is a Will, provide each legatee with the clause relevant to him or her and provide the residual beneficiaries with a copy of the Will. Provide regular reports.

√ Collect and Value the Assets and Liabilities

Make a list of the deceased’s bank and investment accounts, balances, loans, life insurance policies, liabilities, interest owed, etc. by class and value. Distinguish the estate assets from jointly held property and plans with a beneficiary, which do not form part of the estate. Determine if any assets are foreign, if any are missing, and ascertain if the deceased personally guaranteed any loans. 

√ Contact Third Parties

Notify and cancel, as necessary, all service providers, insurance, property maintenance, utilities, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, cable TV, club memberships, home and cell phone, internet service, and request available rebates. Notify Service Canada to cancel

Income Security Program benefits and inform Canada Pension Plan, Veteran’s Affairs and any relevant foreign jurisdiction the deceased received a pension from and where appropriate, seek death benefits and survivor benefits. Cancel the deceased’s driver’s license, provincial and private health insurance, social insurance card and set up mail redirection with Canada Post. Confirm outstanding debts and cancel credit cards, determining whether insurance exists to pay balances (e.g., life insurance on credit cards, mortgage insurance).

√ Pay Creditors/Debts

The executor must pay the deceased’s and estate’s debts such as funeral expenses, utilities, income tax, probate fees (estate administration tax), claims, and professional fees prior to making any distribution.

√ Prepare/Confirm Tax Information

Prepare and file any unfiled tax returns for previous years within six months of the date of death. Prepare and file Terminal T1 Return and any additional types of relevant tax returns (e.g., Rights and Things return, trust return, sole proprietorship return, foreign tax return). Request income tax clearance certificates and obtain HST clearances if applicable.

√ Prepare Accounts

Prepare final statements of accounts for passing or approval by beneficiaries with the executor compensation outlined. If the accounts are not approved, they must be submitted to the court for passing, which your lawyer can assist with.

√ Distribution of Assets

Only after the debts have been paid, the final tax clearance certificate received and beneficiary releases signed should you transfer and distribute the final residue of the estate. Cancel any remaining outstanding insurance, close estate account(s) and provide final reporting to the beneficiaries.

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