In BC, a person making a Will appoints one or more persons to be an executor of a Will-maker’s estate. The executor of a Will is the person who is to carry out the instructions and wishes of the Will-maker as they set out in the Will. In general, the executor gathers in all the estate assets, pays funeral costs, debts and taxes, and then distributes what is left to the beneficiaries named in the Will. In most cases, an executor of a Will must apply for a Grant of Probate from the BC Supreme Court.
Just because you are named an executor in a Will does not mean that you have to act as an executor. Acting as an executor can be challenging, stressful and time-consuming, and there are mechanisms and procedures for a person to “refuse” such an appointment should he or she be unwilling or unable to do so. However, once a named executor begins dealing with the estate assets, he or she is generally bound to complete the executorship.
If you do act as an executor, you can be reimbursed for expenses you paid out of your own pocket in relation to your service as the executor. You can also claim a fee for your executorship services.
As an executor, your duty is to always act in the best interest of the estate, and there are a number of steps that may have to be taken. It is always best to consult a lawyer familiar with estate law to help you while serving as an executor.
If you have any questions about estate law please call Sharene Orstad, a partner at Drysdale Bacon McStravick LLP.