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Wills and estate planning

How to choose an executor Add to ...

Choosing an executor is one of the most important decisions you'll make when you're preparing your will. Choose someone who is willing and able to carry out the many required tasks.

Your executor is responsible for protecting and administering your estate, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. These are key duties that require a substantial amount of time and effort – and the ability to make intelligent decisions.

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Five qualities to look for in an executor

Your executor should be someone who:

  1. You trust to manage your affairs the way you want
  2. Lives reasonably close to you, so it’s easy to deal with your family and your assets
  3. Has some knowledge of tax, investments and financial decision-making
  4. Is good at getting things done
  5. Is likely to survive you.

Three tips for choosing an executor

1. Consider naming an estates professional as your executor

Many people choose to appoint family members or close friends as their executor. However, if you have a complex estate or are concerned about potential family conflicts, consider appointing an estates professional, like a lawyer or a trust company, as an executor.

2. Consider naming more than one executor

For example, you could name a family member and a lawyer or trust company as co-executors.

3. Name a back-up

Consider naming a back-up executor in case your first choice can’t take on the role for some reason.

Tip: Even if you only name a family member or friend as executor, they may choose to hire a lawyer or estates professional to help them take care of handling the day-to-day administration of your estate. This person would be paid by your estate.


Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

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