Will-Related Services Following the Testator’s Passing (Issuer Of The Will)
WHEN DEATH OCCURS
- Obtain a copy of the Will and review it with the Executor or Executrix.
- Notify the appropriate authorities of the death.
- Determine and arrange for the donation of organs, tissue, or the whole body.
- Arrange for repatriation as appropriate in the event of a foreign death.
- Check on any livestock or pets that may require care.
- Secure property & ensure no lack of occupation is evident to potential thieves.
- Review the Will for specific instructions concerning the funeral.
- Assist with funeral arrangements if required.
INITIAL ADMINISTRATIVE STEPS
- Forward mail.
- Obtain multiple original copies of the proof-of-death certificate.
- Ensure the family’s immediate financial needs can be met.
- Arrange for insurance for any unoccupied property.
- Review any marriage contracts, family law issues, or dependent relief issues.
- Prepare Probate of the Will Application, if necessary.
- Pay probate taxes as determined.
- Obtain Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee.
- Transfer Assets into the name of the Estate.
- File the Estate Information Return With the Ministry of Finance.
COMMUNICATING WITH BENEFICIARIES
- Communicate directly with beneficiaries, gather information, and set expectations.
- Provide regular timely updates to beneficiaries, gather information, and set expectations.
- Provide a copy of the estate summary document to the entitled beneficiaries.
- Communicate with charities and residual beneficiaries regarding the distribution process.
- Review insurance policies and verify that adequate coverage is in place to protect all assets.
- Ensure all utilities and property taxes are paid on a timely basis.
- Notify banks and institutions where the deceased held accounts or owed money.
- Cancel all credit card accounts and return or destroy cards.
- Notify Equifax and TransUnion of death and card cancellations.
- Open an estate bank account to deposit cash receipts, pay expenses, and consolidate all other account balances.
- Contact issuers of all mortgages to determine which ones were insured and to cease payments immediately.
- Locate Investment accounts
- Value and record estate assets as of the date of death.
- Arrange for obtaining values of Real Estate, Businesses, or other assets.
- Determine all debts owed by the deceased and owed to the deceased.
- Apply for and collect CPP Death Benefit.
- Contact the deceased’s employer or former employer regarding any outstanding wages, employee benefits, pension plans, and death benefits.
- Apply for and collect personally owned or group life insurance and other insurance benefits.
- In Ontario, the Estate Information Return must be filed within 90 days of notification of appointment as executor.
ADMINISTERING THE ESTATE
- Review the suitability of investments, adjust accordingly, determine which assets should be sold to meet cash requirements, and consider tax implications, relevant fees, and timing of dispositions.
- Invest cash in permissible investments until the estate is finalized.
- Assist in establishing any trusts stipulated in the Will.
- Cancel CPP, OAS & GIS payments within 30 days and return any additional payments.
- Apply for CPP survivors’ pension and or children’s benefits and the Allowance for the Survivor.
- Advise CRA to discontinue GST/HST credit and child tax benefits.
- Obtain a copy of the most recent tax returns filed by the deceased.
- Consider hiring a professional accountant to file all required and optional Income Tax Returns.
- Pay any required income taxes.
- Arrange for the filing of all required and optional Income Tax Returns.
- Obtain a Tax Clearance Certificate from CRA and once the Notice of Assessment has been received confirming all tax liabilities have been paid
- Initiate the sale of assets and transfer of property titles.
- Advise surviving owners of property held in joint tenancy to update records at the Land Registry Office.
- Complete documentation and arrange to transfer employment, health, pension, and retiree benefits.
- Advertise for creditors.
- Pay all debts and settle all legitimate claims prior to the final distribution of assets, being sure to obtain written receipts for all disbursements.
- Applying for Income Tax clearance certificates.
- Prepare Initial distribution schedules for Executor approval.
- Distribute initial distributions to beneficiaries and obtain releases.
- Prepare Final distribution schedules for Executor approval.
- Distribute final distributions to beneficiaries and obtain releases.
- Distribute specific bequests, obtaining receipts from all beneficiaries.
- Prepare an account of all expenses including any compensation paid for executor duties.
- Arrange for the final distribution of all remaining assets and obtain requisite signed receipts.
- Prepare Estate Accounting and statement of Estate Account.
CLOSING THE ESTATE
- Prepare a final accounting of all assets and liabilities, income and expenses, and distribution of assets.
- Have all adult beneficiaries approve the accounting and sign a release form.
- Advise the bank (in writing) to close the estate account once the estate is completely settled.
- Some beneficiaries may receive more assets than they have had to manage in the past and could become targets for unscrupulous praetors or unadvisable endeavors. Advise beneficiaries to obtain professional advice from a financial advisor.