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Executor's Checklist

This Executor’s Checklist provides a starting point. It would be near impossible for any Executor’s Checklist such as this to foresee every possible scenario that may arise while administering an estate. There will be items included in this Executor’s Checklist that will not be applicable to your particular situation. Additionally, there may be items not included that may be of extreme importance to your particular situation. In order to get legal advice with respect to your particular situation, you must retain a lawyer.


In Ontario, “executor” is no longer the correct legal term for someone who looks after a deceased person’s estate. In Ontario, “Estate Trustee” is now used to describe an executor an administrator whether male or female. This eliminates the old-fashioned and cumbersome terms “executor,” “executrix,” “administrator,” and “administratrix.” The term Trustee(s) will be used throughout this checklist to refer to each of the old-fashioned terms noted above.


When a person dies without leaving a Will, that person is said to die intestate; the result is an intestacy. An intestacy is usually more difficult and time consuming to administer than an estate governed by a Will.


When there is no Will, the only way for someone to be granted authority to administer a deceased individual’s estate is to apply for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will (“Certificate”). The person named in the Certificate is called an Estate Trustee. A lot of people still refer to this by the old-fashioned “Probate”.


If the deceased did leave a valid Will, the Trustee derives their authority from the Will itself; however, Probate may still be required. For more information or to determine if Probate is required in your particular situation, please do not hesitate to contact us. The first consultation meeting is always free of charge.


Immediately after death, the Trustee must start collecting information about the deceased. In a perfect situation, the deceased would have left an organized collection of documents detailing all the pertinent information; unfortunately, this is rarely the case. If the deceased did not leave this helpful collection of documents, it is time for the Trustee to put on his or her detective hat to search for all of the required information.


This Checklist does not contain timelines. Timelines are very dependant on the particular estate; for example, if Probate is required, it can greatly increase the amount of time before assets can be ascertained resulting in a delay of distribution. Administering an estate can sometimes feel very rushed; while at other times, months can pass before there is any advancement. The most important thing to remember is that the Trustee should act diligently in fulfilling his or her obligations. The administration of an estate should never come to a standstill because of inaction by the Trustee. If you would like more precise timelines, please make an appointment to speak with a lawyer.


While completing this Checklist, it may be helpful to put a checkmark beside the items that are completed and an “X” beside the items that are not applicable to your particular situation.

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