While you may consider it an honour to be asked to be the executor for your parents, sibling or friend,  you must also understand fully the role and responsibilities with this undertaking.  There is a lot to being an executor, and it is important to evaluate if you have the ability and time to fulfill the role to carry out your loved one’s last wishes. 

An executor is an estate representative who administers the deceased person's estate. An estate includes assets (what is owned) and liabilities (what is owed). 

If you choose to accept the role, it would be best to review the estate ahead of the death of a loved one so that you are clear on what the will stipulates and what will need to be accomplished in the weeks and months following their passing. Not everyone has this luxury as many who accept the role know they will be appointed at some point but wish to avoid talking with loved ones prior to their passing. 

Some of the items you will be responsible for as executor include:

  • Making funeral and burial arrangements;
  • Locating the will, banking information and other important paperwork;
  • Applying for probate, if applicable;
  • Locating and valuing assets, distributing the assets;
  • Notifying employers, pension providers, CPP, OAS;
  • Applying for CPP death benefits;
  • Applying for life insurance proceeds;
  • Completing a final tax return, as well as any returns for the estate;
  • Paying the debts of the estate from the proceeds of the estate;
  • Dividing up the estate among the beneficiaries

There are also certain debts that come with being an executor of an estate. Although the executor is not responsible for the debts of the estate, they are responsible for any debts incurred after the death of the deceased person if they did not get payment from the estate. For example, the executor could be held personally responsible for debts to CRA once the final deceased tax return is filed. If there is a balance owing to CRA (because investments were cashed out) then this debt must be paid from the proceeds of the estate before any funds are dispersed to beneficiaries. A clearance certificate must be obtained from CRA. If you do not get a clearance certificate, you can be held personally liable for the tax debt of the estate. 

As you can see there are many considerations in agreeing to be an executor of an estate. For more information see the link provided by the Government of Canada, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: 

Being an estate representative and settling the estate -