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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is a trust company a good choice as executor of a Will?

I work as an in-house lawyer at Scotia Trust (part of Scotia Private Client Group) and so I spend a lot of time talking to people about what trust companies do. Many people don't know that they can appoint a trust company to be the executor and trustee of their Wills. This is a great idea for individuals who are widowed, who don't have children, whose children live outside of Alberta or who are worried that their children may not get along if only one is chosen as the executor. It's also a great choice for an individual whose affairs are complicated and they just don't want to burden a family member with the work and worry.

One of the situations in which a trust company is a fantastic choice of executor is that in which the individual is in a second (or third, or more) marriage. One of the main reasons people make Wills is to reduce the possibility of disputes among family members after the person has passed away. Sometimes with blended families, no matter who among your family members you choose as executor, you simply can't please everyone. The possibility of family disputes is huge. You don't want to leave your loved ones in that situation. Trust companies can help because they are neutral. It's a choice that everyone can live with.

Often, individuals think that you have to be extremely wealthy for a trust company to be interested in them as customers. I can't speak for all trust companies, but I know that isn't true of Scotia Trust. Certainly there are some guidelines, but it isn't necessary for a customer to have several million dollars.

Many people think that trust companies are extremely expensive as executors. Again, this simply isn't the case. It's more reasonable than you think, particularly when you take our many years of experience into consideration. After you pass away and the trust company begins acting as your executor, your estate is charged a percentage. Based on the questions my customers ask me, the percentage is significantly less than people think (where on earth did that 10% misconception come from?). There is no fee to sign up and no fee if you cancel your agreement.

If you want to learn more about this from me or from anyone else from Scotia Trust, give us a call. We have offices across Canada. We'd love to chat with you.

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