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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Executors, should you advertise for estate creditors?

Most executors know that a large part of their responsibility is to pay the debts of the deceased from the deceased's estate. Sometimes that seemingly simple concept gets complicated, such as when an executor doesn't find out about a debt or bill until he has already distributed the estate. This can be trouble for the executor because he may be liable for paying that debt himself if he distributes the estate without paying it.

One of the things that executors can do is to advertise in the paper for any debts owed by the deceased. This step isn't required by law, and it's up to each executor to assess his own risk in skipping it.

Click here to read an article from Ontario lawyer Noah Weisberg that talks about what kind of protection an executor might expect from placing this type of advertisement in the paper.

I smiled when I noticed that Mr. Weisberg had used English, French and Latin all in one sentence! I think we'll all be familiar with the French phrase he used, but I'd like to make a quick comment on the Latin term "mala fides". It refers to bad faith, or in other words, doing something dishonest, illegal or just plain underhanded. In the context of executors and advertising for creditors, it means that the executor may not pretend he doesn't know about debts that he does know about, or make promises of payment that he does not intend to pay, or in other ways behave dishonestly. Just placing an advertisement won't protect an executor who doesn't act in good faith.

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