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Friday, December 17, 2010

Your first meeting with the estate lawyer - what to bring, what to expect

Many times an executor has come to his or her first meeting with me loaded down with a cardboard box (or two) crammed full of papers. The explanation is always that the executor didn't know what to bring, so he or she brought everything. That makes sense, but somehow it still ended up that I needed things the executor hadn't brought along. This post is intended to make that first meeting between an executor (or administrator) and the estate lawyer run a little more smoothly.

What to bring:

  • paper and pen for taking notes
  • 2 pieces of I.D.
  • the original will
  • a Death Certificate and/or Funeral Director's Statement of Death
  • the deceased's I.D.
  • the deceased's social insurance number
  • the most recent statements from the deceased's bank accounts, investments, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, LIRAs, DRIPs, loans and lines of credit
  • the deceased's last tax return
  • if the deceased was paying child support, a copy of the order or agreement to pay the support
  • copy of the deceased's life insurance policies
  • names and addresses of all beneficiaries named in the will
  • names and addresses of the deceased's spouse and children
  • the birthdates of any beneficiaries who are minors
  • copy of title to the deceased's real estate, or the tax notice for the property
What to talk about:

  • a timeline for individual tasks, and for the estate as a whole
  • what the lawyer is going to do for you
  • which tasks you are going to do yourself
  • who the lawyer represents and will speak with
  • who is entitled to see a copy of the will
  • any possible claims on the estate
  • what to do about personal effects in the deceased's home
  • what and when the lawyer will charge for fees and disbursements
  • paying the lawyer from the estate
  • any further paperwork the lawyer needs from you
  • any immediate need for cash for the deceased's spouse
  • payment of the funeral bill
  • opening an executor's bank account
  • any of the deceased's assets that are in danger of being lost or damaged
  • what to do if the deceased's house is now vacant
  • whether you will claim executor's compensation, and if so, when and how much

Make sure before you leave the lawyer's office that you are clear on exactly what you have to do next to keep the estate moving. Open a binder or accordion file to keep estate documents, lists and statements organized.

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