BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group
BMO Harris Private Banking

BMO Harris Private Banking

July 04, 2013 06:00 ET

BMO Harris Private Banking: Canadians Opt to "Keep it in the Family" When Appointing an Executor

- Eighty percent of Canadians with a will have chosen a family member as their Executor

- Know your role: Executors of a will must carry out close to 70 separate duties

- Summer months are an ideal time to consider who your Executor could be and discuss the topic with him/her

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 4, 2013) - As Canadians spend time enjoying summer, BMO Harris Private Banking reminds them to consider setting some time aside, if needed, to discuss important matters such as estate and trust planning - including who will act as Executor of their estate.

According to a BMO Harris Private Banking Estate Planning study, more than half (56 per cent) of Canadians have a will in place. Within this group, the vast majority (80 per cent) plan to keep the management of their estate within the family:

  • Thirty-five per cent have chosen their spouse or partner as Executor.
  • Almost one-third (29 per cent) have named a family member other than their spouse or partner.
  • Fifteen per cent have named someone outside of the family (such as a lawyer, family friend or trust company) as Executor.

"It's encouraging that so many Canadians have given serious thought to who will represent them after their passing," said Sara Plant, Vice President and National Director, BMO Harris Private Banking. "People should keep in mind that being an Executor of a will is a significant responsibility that requires time, expertise and emotional readiness. It's critical that he or she understands and consents to the role they'll play well in advance, and that the wider family understands this decision and how it will impact them."

Executor's Role and Responsibilities

An Executor is your personal representative after your death - the person who will stand in your place to carry out the winding up of your affairs. There are close to 70 separate duties that must be carried out - more if the estate is complex. These tasks fall into five general categories:

  • Preliminary arrangements
  • Securing the assets
  • Assembly, inventory and valuation of the estate
  • Paying debts, legacies and tax compliance
  • Final distribution of the estate

Given the many duties involved, as well as the emotional burden of having a family member pass away, Ms. Plant noted that it is wise for all Executors to consult a professional so they can understand their role and responsibilities in full.

"Appointing an effective Executor is critical to the success of your overall estate plan and will help ensure that you pass on your wealth according to your wishes," said Ms. Plant. "Consequently, as with any aspect of an individual's will, it's essential that you carefully consider who will act as your Executor and discuss it with them before your lawyer prepares your will. The summer months are a perfect time to have these conversations, as people usually have less on their minds and may have more time to think about your request."

Ms. Plant encourages Canadians to consider the following when choosing an Executor:

  • Age and Stage: Be sure that your chosen Executor has the skills and experience required and will be able to handle possible challenging family dynamics.
  • Ask Them First: Discuss your decision with your chosen Executor prior to their appointment. They may decline, or request that you allow for professional support, or want to discuss the fee arrangement.
  • Spell It Out: If the Executor accepts the duty, discuss the specifics of your will and ensure they have a basic understanding of your estate.
  • Partner Up: Consider adding a co-Executor so they can share the burden or balance interests.
  • Name an Alternate: Name another person in case your first choice pre-deceases you or is unable or unwilling to act at the time of your death.
  • Get Professional Help: It may be more prudent to appoint a trust company as a corporate Executor depending on the circumstances or the complexity of the estate. A corporate Executor can also provide guidance to the family Executor to add speed and ease to the process.

For more information on BMO Estate Planning:

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The results cited in this release are from an online Pollara survey with a random sample of 1,004 Canadians 18 years of age and older, conducted between September 18th and September 24th, 2012. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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