Garton & Harris

A trustworthy executor is key for probate administration

When a parent dies, there are many uncomfortable things an adult child must endure. The loved one may have suffered through a long illness that was difficult to watch, or the funeral may have been particularly emotional. Before the dust even settles, however, the matters of estate and probate administration begin, including some of the fiduciary duties of the designated executor. However, do family members in British Columbia have any say if they don't trust the estate executor?

The three main responsibilities of an executor include gathering and protecting the assets, liquidating assets to pay off taxes and other bills, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. These assignments are not derived from personal choices, but they are usually outlined in the will or other estate planning documents. Executors must follow the instructions of the documents and place the interests of the beneficiaries first.

However, if a beneficiary suspects the executor is making a profit from the estate or is not following the wishes of the deceased, the beneficiary may question the executor for clarification. It will be important to do this in a timely manner before probate is complete. If the executor does not alleviate the beneficiary's concerns, the beneficiary may seek legal counsel for how best to proceed. It is likely that the executor has a lawyer for advice and assistance.

Executing a will can be a confusing and delicate process, especially when dealing with a complex estate or multiple beneficiaries. Having a British Columbia lawyer to guide one through the issues and answer questions may alleviate some of the confusion and stress. Whether one is a beneficiary waiting through a long probate administration or an executor facing fiduciary duties, the advocacy of a lawyer will prove invaluable.

Source:, "How can beneficiaries protect themselves against a shady executor?", Ed Olkovich, Accessed on June 16, 2017

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