Choosing an executor

Choosing an executor is one of the most important decisions you'll make when you're preparing your will. Choose someone who is willing and able to carry out the many required tasks.​​​​​

Your executorExecutor Someone you name to carry out the wishes that you set out in your will after your death. May be named by the court if you don’t name one. In Ontario, an executor is called an estate trustee.+ read full definition is responsible for protecting and administering your estateEstate The total sum of money and property you leave behind when you die.+ read full definition, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. These are key duties that require a substantial amount of time and effort – and the ability to make intelligent decisions.

5 qualities to look for in an executor

Your executor should be someone who:

  1. You trustTrust An account set up to hold assets for a beneficiary. A trustee manages the assets until the beneficiary reaches legal age.+ read full definition to manage your affairs the way you want
  2. Lives reasonably close to you, so it’s easy to deal with your family and your assets
  3. Has some knowledge of taxTax A fee the government charges on income, property, and sales. The money goes to finance government programs and other costs.+ read full definition, investments and financial decision-making
  4. Is good at getting things done
  5. Is likely to survive you.

3 tips for choosing an executor

1. Consider naming an estates professional as your executor

Many people choose to appoint family members or close friends as their executor. However, if you have a complex estate or are concerned about potential family conflicts, consider appointing an estates professional, like a lawyer or a trust companyTrust company A company that offers the same services as a bank, but can also manage estates, trusts and pension plans, which banks cannot do.+ read full definition, as an executor.

2. Consider naming more than 1 executor

For example, you could name a family member and a lawyer or trust company as co-executors.

3. Name a back-up

Consider naming a back-up executor in case your first choice can’t take on the role for some reason.

Even if you only name a family member or friend as executor, they may choose to hire a lawyer or estates professional to help them take care of handling the day-to-day administration of your estate. This person would be paid by your estate.

Key point

Make sure your executor has – or knows where to find – the most recent copy of your will and other estate information.

Last updated