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Sunday, October 24, 2010

10 things an executor can do while waiting for probate

An executor appointed under a Will knows that he or she has to look after the estate. Sometimes, though, it isn't clear to the executor exactly when he or she is supposed to take charge. If the Will is soon going to be sent to the court for probate, does the executor have to wait for that before acting on the estate?

The executor named in a Will must have the court-issued grant of Probate for some transactions, such as transferring the title to a house. But that doesn't mean that the executor can't take care of other matters on the estate before the Probate is ready. The following is a list of 10 of the first things an executor should take care of, whether or not the Probate has been given yet:

1. Make funeral arrangements. This is up to the executor, even if the executor is not the next of kin.

2. Pay the deceased's urgent bills. Funeral and some other bills may be paid out of the deceased's bank account if the executor presents the bills and a Death Certificate to the deceased's bank.

3. Secure the deceased's house or apartment and notify the insurer that the house is vacant. Change the locks. Make sure all assets belonging to the deceased are secure.

4. Check the deceaesd's safety deposit box. Check for newer Wills, title to land, stock certificates, savings bonds, valuable small items.

5. Find the original Will of the deceased. As the court will want the original Will for granting the probate, having just a copy of the Will is not enough.

6. Get copies of the Death Certificate and the Funeral Director's Statement of Death. The executor will need these for obtaining information about the deceased, and transferring thedeceased's assets.

7. Have the deceased's mail re-directed to you. This way you can make sure that you will receive important items such as tax slips and bank statements.

8. Notify various parties of the deceased's death, such as family members, neighbours, employer, banker, doctor, insurer, landlord. Consider placing an obituary in the newspaper.

9. Cancel coverage such as provincial health care, private health plans, credit cards, unions, professional organizations, club memberships and subscriptions.

10. Open an executor's bank account. Deposit any cash you find around the deceased's home. Deposit other funds there as they become available.

1 comment:

  1. I am the executor of a comparatively large estate (18 beneficiaries, in three countries, some of the beneficiaries are institutions), but the estate is not too complicated: some investments, apartment, car, and some valuables. I am also one of the beneficiaries, and I have a joint account with the deceased, in TD bank. I am close to applying for probate, and I have done some of the items 1-10, but regarding item 10.: In TD bank they told me I cannot open an estate account before probate, so I still use a joint account that I have with the deceased (my aunt; predeceased by her husband; no children and no other relatives in Canada); the safety box (where the Will was kept) was connected to the joint account and used jointly as well. I keep good accounting of funds deposited and withdrawn from the account for servicing the estate, and most of the deposits (such as CPP death benefit and refunds) are already done, before the probate. Is this situation acceptable; I mean I certainly was not allowed to open an estate account; but perhaps, the person who rejected was not quite qualified, and I did not get the refusal in writing; technically, I could have found a bank that would have opened such account (it seems, by what I have already seen at this site), but it seems too late at this point. I will certainly open an estate account when probate is given; I just wanted to make sure I am not breaking any laws meanwhile.

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