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Empowering Your Executor: Steps for Smooth Estate Administration

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Last Will and Testament

Preparing Your Executor

If you are putting your estate documents in place now, it is a good idea to inform your executor of the duties and responsibilities of executorship.
Acting as the executor of an estate is a demanding and stressful job. Alleviate future stressors for your executor by ensuring they have the information and the resources they need to complete their duties.
The following are things to consider putting in place to help your executor and information to share with them.

Executorship

Executors attend to the instructions a person has left in their will. Executors can work closely with lawyers to complete their responsibilities appropriately. Before the executor’s duties begin, it is helpful for them to understand their expectations. Please discuss with your executor their responsibilities to ensure they are comfortable with the role. Executorship is an essential role with many responsibilities, and it is crucial for the person you have appointed to feel confident in their role. You can review the process of probate and distribution of assets with them and your lawyer to make sure they fully understand and have all the information they need to be successful. You can read more about the probate process in the province of Saskatchewan on the SaskLawCourt website.

What are important documents for wills and estates?

Important Documents

If you have a will, power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directive, tell your executor where these documents are and how to get them when needed. You can make copies of your power of attorney and advanced healthcare directive for your executor. However, we do not recommend you make copies of your will. Keep your will in a secure location that your executor can access. When you update your last will and testament you will want to ensure a couple of things. Firstly, ensure your old will is shredded and destroyed. Secondly, ensure that there are no copies are kept.

Lawyers

Your executor does not have to use your lawyer to attend to probate. It may be helpful and smoother if your lawyer does attend to probate. In some circumstances, that is not possible. In those cases, another lawyer will need to complete probate. You may want to discuss with your executor what other estate lawyers are in the area that can assist.

Other Professionals

Executors may require the assistance of other professionals, such as tax specialists, insurance brokers, and financial advisors. If you utilize any professionals to manage your assets and advise you about financial matters, it may be pertinent to introduce your executor to those professionals. When managing your estate, your executor can rely on these professionals to assist them.

Communicate

Conversations about estate planning can be emotionally challenging. Despite the difficulty, it is important to have open and ongoing communication with your executor about your estate. Having these conversations ensures your executor understands your wishes. You can be confident they will execute your wishes after you pass on. If you need assistance having these complex conversations, your lawyer or a mediator may be willing and available to facilitate discussions about your estate planning.

Assets

It is helpful to keep a current list of your assets and provide it to your executor. This list should include any insurance policies you hold, bank accounts, and investments. If you have physical assets, such as property, vehicles, and the like, include their physical locations. You will also want to include the whereabouts of any important document related to said physical asset. If you have cash and personal items with high monetary value, note these down because they might be subject to probate fees. If you have questions about probate fees and what items are subject to such, contact your lawyer to discuss or review the information on the court website. Schedule an annual or semi-annual review of your asset list to ensure the information is always current and accurate.

Ongoing Estate Planning

You may need to update your estate documents periodically. Many lawyers recommend updating estate documents when a major life event occurs, such as a marriage, divorce, birth, death, or move. Even if no major life events occur, you may need to or want to change your estate documents. Review your documents now and then to ensure the instructions within the documents remain aligned with your wishes.

Other Information

You may have particular wishes not included in your will and other estate documents. These wishes may be regarding social media and digital assets. It might be helpful for you to keep your login information and wishes in a document for your executor or some other trusted person to be responsible for upon your passing. You may want to discuss this with your executor and your lawyer, as your lawyers may have additional information for you to consider.

Alternate Executor

It is helpful to have another executor named in your will if the person you named as your first executor dies before you or is unable or unwilling to attend to their responsibilities as executor. The alternate executor should be informed in the same way as your first executor. Some people choose to name joint executors. If you are interested in having joint executors, discuss the pros and cons of this option with your lawyers and executors to ensure this is the best way for your estate instructions to be carried out.

considering a lawyer and executor in wills and estates

Choosing Not to Work with Lawyers

Some people make their own estate documents without using a lawyer. Some executors choose to apply for probate and attend to their executor responsibilities without hiring a lawyer. Both of these options are available to individuals, though either choice may complicate the matter or increase the stress of the process. It is always helpful to get sound legal advice about estate planning and probate. Lawyers have specific knowledge and experience about these processes and can help make the process less stressful for all those involved.

If you want more information about estate planning and executorship, please contact our office to book an appointment with one of our talented and knowledgeable staff:

306-975-7151

admin@commonsenselawyer.com

Further resources about estate planning and probate:

Government of Saskatchewan | Wills

Government of Saskatchewan | Consideration When Planning Your Will

PLEA | Wills

Government of Saskatchewan | When the Deceased has a Last Will and Testament

PLEA | Letters Probate

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