Choosing the right executor takes careful consideration

Selecting an executor is one of the most important estate planning decisions.

Duties of this individual are likely to include:-

  • Carrying out all of the instructions in your Will.
  • Arranging your funeral.
  • Working with your lawyer, accountant, banker and financial adviser to settle the estate.
  • Consolidating your estate and preparing a statement of assets and liabilities.
  • Preparing and filing your final tax return.
  • Paying debts, funeral expenses, and any costs associated with settling your estate.
  • Selling securities and property as required by your Will or to settle the estate.
  • Informing your heirs of your wishes and distributing your estate and legacies accordingly.

For a more extensive list of the duties they may have to perform click here: Checklist for executors

The responsibilities are considerable - choose someone who is intelligent and dependable.

They will be party to intimate knowledge of your family’s assets so make certain the individual you choose is someone you and your family can trust.

The advantage of choosing a family member is that they have a much greater incentive to behave ethically. There is usually no question about whether or not you can trust them to properly carry out your last wishes.

It’s a good idea to choose an alternate, just in case the first one is not able to carry out the duties when the time comes.

More than one

Sometimes the assets are divided up between a personal fortune and a family business.

In this case, it may be appropriate to assign a different individual to each one, so that their unique expertise can be of use. It can pay to match a person’s unique qualifications to the types of assets they’ll be distributing.

A family member might be best suited to distributing your personal estate. Your business transitioning might be better handled by a trusted business partner.

Keeping them Informed

Once your choice has agreed to represent you, tell them where you are going to keep the Will. Give them a copy as well as a summary of your assets and liabilities.

Discuss matters in depth with them to make sure your wishes are carried out properly.


You can stipulate in your Will how much the pay is to be. It can be a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the value of your estate.

If you choose the first approach and your estate becomes complicated, it could take an unusually large amount of time to settle your affairs and the fee may be unfairly small.

If you choose a specific percentage of the value, your estate could grow much larger, and the compensation may be overly large to the detriment of your beneficiaries.

If you do not stipulate in your Will how much your executor is to be be paid, the Alberta Courts guidelines will apply.

A charge of 3 to 5% is paid on the first $250,000 of capital, 2 to 4% on the next $250,000 and half of 1/2 to 1-1/2% on the balance of your estate.

Review your choice regularly

Re-visit your choice of executor every year or so. The person may do something to indicate that they are a poor choice for the job, or they may pre-decease you. In these cases, choose another and update your Will.

The time period following your death will undoubtedly be a tough one on your family. Their burden will be considerably lessened if you choose the right executor for your estate.

Consider your choice wisely, and pick someone who is qualified, willing to accept the legal responsibility, and more than anything else, trustworthy.

It will make his or her job so much easier if you have prepared a list of all your personal and financial records. Be sure to let your executor know where to locate it. For a printable version of such a list click below:

Personal Records