Garton & Harris

What are an executor's first steps in estate administration?

When people agree to take on an executorship, they are often aware of the overarching responsibility to administer a will. But, many are not as clear on where to start, or what the step-by-step process is when it comes to estate administration. Here are some of the first things British Columbia executors should do when the estate owner passes away.

The first thing an executor should do is to review the will to carefully review the testator's intentions. Testators can better prepare their executors by providing a letter that explains the reasoning and intentions behind their estate planning decisions, especially if they might be called into question. However, the most important document to have prepared is a clearly defined will.

Once the executor has this information, he or she typically meets with the family to communicate the information therein. This is a much easier conversation if the testator already discussed  the will with family prior to his or her death. Next, the executor should settle into the work of organizing files and compiling all information about assets and liabilities. This can be a uniquely challenging job, so it is ideal to pick an executor that is organized, capable of working with numbers, and has the time to dedicate to this task.

It is important to take these first steps seriously and to do them with integrity, communication and attention to detail. An executor has a fiduciary responsibility to take care of all assets and debts, so he or she may be held personally responsible if the process is mismanaged. Working with a British Columbia estate administration lawyer can help prevent missteps.

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