Fulfilling all those executors’ duties isn’t easy especially when yourself is grieving the loss of your loved one. In the estate administration process, the role of an executor, sometimes known as a personal representative or administrator, is critical. Executors are responsible for carrying out the deceased’s final wishes and ensuring that their assets are dispersed to beneficiaries in accordance with the will or intestacy laws.
Choosing an executor is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. While many people intend to name a friend or family member as their executor, it’s important to recognize that this position can be emotionally taxing and comes with a variety of tasks, responsibilities, and legal requirements. In Canada, according to cicea.ca, of the 14.8 million people aged 45 or older, almost 99% intend to name a friend or family member as their executor. However, it’s essential to realize that being an executor can be a significant burden that may negatively impact the executor’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider whom you choose as your executor and ensure they are up to the task.
In this blog, we will explore everything you need to know about the coping strategies and support you might need to help yourself and others throughout the process. But before that let’s look at some fundamentals.
Table Of Content:
- What Are the Executors’ Duties?
- What are the Challenges That an Executor Can Face
- Coping Strategies and Support for an Executor
What Are the Executors’ Duties?
Serving as executor of a loved one’s estate is a significant responsibility. It demands careful preparation and attention to legal requirements. An executor has a duty to act in the estate’s and its beneficiaries’ best interests. Here are some of the main executor’s duties:
Searching Documents and Arranging Them:
An executor is in charge of collecting and compiling all of the documents needed to administer and probate the estate. To begin, the executor must get a certified copy of the death certificate. Another important document is the will if one exists. The original is preferred, but the executor should retain any duplicates as well as any prior versions. The wording of the will gives the executor a better grasp of the estate and its intended recipients. Finally, the executor should check for any other documents that detail the decedent’s property and the condition of their estate.
Reporting Death to Interested Parties and Agencies:
An executor should notify a decedent’s family and friends of their death as quickly as feasible. Executors are obligated to keep heirs and beneficiaries up to date on the status of the estate. Even if an executor hasn’t decided whether to file for probate, they should notify beneficiaries and heirs of their current plans and keep them informed if those plans change.
Settling The Deceased’s Financial Affairs:
An executor is also in charge of managing with the deceased’s financial obligations. This involves dealing with the deceased’s income tax status from the date of death until the conclusion of the administration term, as well as any capital gains tax due on asset disposal.
Frequent and open communication may calm concerns and reduce the likelihood of future opposition or legal action. The executor must inform other parties of the decedent’s death in addition to beneficiaries and heirs in order to protect the estate’s financial interests and obligations.
Making a Will and submitting it to the Probate Court:
Most states require a will to be filed within a specific period following death or discovery. The timeframe varies by state and jurisdiction, but someone with a will typically has 10 to 30 days to submit it. The executor should create copies before filing since the probate court will almost certainly demand the original.
It is not essential to submit a probate petition with the will because the executor may require extra time to assess if a probate case is even needed or if the estate qualifies for particular small estate processes. Even if the estate will not go through probate, filing the will is generally necessary by state law.
Obtaining Benefits During Probate:
In the aftermath of a death, a decedent’s family members may incur financial obligations. Fortunately, families may be able to offset many of these expenditures through sources such as life insurance, pensions, and Social Security income.
Family members may also be entitled to any outstanding salaries or other job benefits owed to their loved ones when they died. An executor may not be required to manage the process of collecting benefits, but he or she may assist beneficiaries and heirs in navigating it.
What are the Challenges That an Executor Can Face?
Here are some of the main challenges that you can face while doing your executors’ duties:
Delay Of Probate Court:
Probate can take anything from six months to a year. Depending on the size of the estate, if the will is disputed, and whether all beneficiaries can be traced, the probate procedure can consume a significant amount of an executor’s time while also accruing expenses.
Issues With Beneficiaries:
If a beneficiary challenges the will, an executor may face months of delay and legal expenses. Similarly, if a beneficiary loses faith in the executor and asks that they be replaced, the settlement procedure can be considerably slowed.
Not Knowing Anything About the Estate
This issue may appear apparent, but if you were not close to the dead, it is possible that they did not disclose all of their financial information to you. If this occurs and there is no will or you don’t know where a lot of key paperwork and valuables are getting through probate court might take a long time.
Potential Conflicts of Interest
One of the most important requirements for estate executors is that they behave in the best interests of the estate. If you find yourself in a conflict of interest, it may be appropriate to appoint another executor. Being a co-signer on a loan with the dead or acquiring real estate from the estate for less than the market price might be considered a conflict of interest.
Coping Strategies and Support for an Executor:
Here are some of the coping and support strategies that can really help you fulfill your executor’s duties:
Look For Guidance from Professionals
Seeking expert advice is one of the most helpful coping methods for executors. Estate administration may be difficult, and the executor may have little or no expertise. A professional offering executor support can assist the executor in understanding their legal duties and ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
An accountant or financial adviser may also advise you on tax issues, financial management, and investment options. Professional advice can assist the executor in making educated decisions while also reducing the stress involved with estate administration. It is critical to deal with estate administration specialists who can give direction and help throughout the process.
Make Self-Care A Priority:
Managing an estate may be emotionally and psychologically taxing, therefore executors must prioritize self-care. Grieving the death of a loved one while handling the estate administration process may be difficult, and it’s critical to take pauses, participate in enjoyable activities, and practice self-care on a regular basis.
Meditation, exercise, relaxing with family and friends, and pursuing hobbies or interests are all examples of self-care. Finding activities that assist alleviate stress and enhance well-being is critical.
Managing an estate may be emotionally draining, so executors must seek emotional help. Talking with family and friends may help relieve tension and give an outlet for feelings. It’s also critical to connect with those who have been through similar experiences. Support groups and forums for executors and those bereaved by the loss of a loved one can offer vital emotional support and understanding.
These communities can provide a safe area for people to discuss their experiences, ask questions, and get advice from others who have been in similar situations. If necessary, professional counseling or therapy can help you deal with the emotional obstacles of being an executor. A therapist or counselor can provide support, guidance, and resources to help you deal with the stress, sadness, and other emotions that come with estate administration.
Another successful coping mechanism for executors is the delegation of responsibility. The executor does not have to handle all aspects of estate administration on himself or herself alone.
Delegating jobs to trustworthy experts or family members may assist minimize workload while also ensuring that activities are handled efficiently and successfully. For example, the executor might outsource activities to a probate attorney such as keeping the estate’s financial records, monitoring asset distribution, or resolving legal concerns. Delegating chores allows the executor to focus on their obligations while also reducing stress.
Being an executor may be a difficult profession with substantial duties. Executors, on the other hand, can handle the estate administration process more successfully and decrease the heavy toll of their tasks if they have coping methods and support systems in place.
Taking care of oneself, obtaining professional help, and utilizing existing support networks can help to make the process more bearable and ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out with integrity and compassion.
To properly carry out their position as an executor, executors must prioritize self-care, seek support when required, and approach their obligations with thoroughness and compassion.
Yes, it is very normal for an executor to seek assistance. Managing the estate of a departed loved one may be daunting, and getting assistance from experts or trusted persons can help alleviate the strain and ensure that the executor’s tasks are carried out successfully.
There are resources available to help executors with their job. These may include books, internet resources, government websites, professional organizations, and legal and financial specialists who specialize in estate administration. Using these resources can give direction and help executors throughout the estate administration procedure.
Managing beneficiary conflicts can be difficult for an executor. Maintaining open communication, obtaining professional mediation or legal advice, being unbiased and fair, and adhering to the provisions of the will and applicable laws are all possible solutions. While managing disagreements, an executor must prioritize the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries.
Meet Doug, a seasoned financial planner with over 35 years of experience in providing trusted advice and planning for retirement, estates, income tax, and investments. As a Chartered Accountant (CPA CA), Certified Estate Advisor (CEA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC), Doug has the expertise and knowledge to guide and support executors through the estate processing journey.