After seven years of serving on the board of directors for the Fraser Valley Estate Planning Council (www.fvepc.com), it is now my turn to serve as President of the council for the next two. This non-profit organization exists to promote communication and education among professionals such as lawyers, accountants and financial planners on the latest developments in the field of estate planning.
Clients often ask me how to reduce tax and probate, but the choice of executor frequently gets less attention than it deserves.
Your executor will be responsible for carrying the wishes you write in your Will, and the role is much more than simply gathering the beneficiaries in a room and reading the list of who gets what.
If things are set up correctly, the process can be fairly simple for the first to pass of a married couple, but beyond that it can get very complicated. Most people are unaware that an executor assumes a lot of personal liability, and rarely do people appreciate how much time the process of settling an estate can consume.
Key considerations in choosing an executor:
- If your executor’s age is similar to yours, they may not still be willing, able, or even alive when you eventually pass
- If they live outside BC (especially the US) your estate may be exposed to additional laws and taxes
- Could “family dynamics” strain relationships?
- Could anything be contentious, such as an unequal distribution among beneficiaries?
- Are there minors or disabled beneficiaries who will need their gift administered over many years?
- Have you agreed on a fee with your executor?