Layout Image

Archive for estate planning Canada

How to Choose an Executor

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

In a will, an executor has a tremendously important job. Sometimes an executor is called an executrix (if female), a trustee, or a personal representative. Regardless of the title used, the job of the executor is to make sure that the instructions set out in your will are followed.

If you’re buying a home and asking a Realtor what is important to consider, he or she may respond by saying, “Location, location, location!” In choosing an executor, my advice would be quite similar. My preferred considerations in choosing an executor are location, relation, and cooperation.

Let’s consider the first part of the triad – location. It matters a great deal where the executor lives. If he or she lives near you and your assets, it will likely be relatively easy for your executor to act for your estate when necessary. However, if your executor of a will lives in another city, province, or country, it will be somewhat more difficult for your executor to do all the things that may be required of him or her, such as selling off your assets for fair market value, interacting with your bank, contacting your creditors, and applying to the local court to probate your estate. While location isn’t everything when choosing an executor, it is a very important consideration.

The second item in the triad is relation. In Canada, an executor is typically someone who is closely related to you. In most cases, spouses and adult children are the best choices for executors. For single people without children, siblings are often good choices. You typically want to pick someone who is close to you and willing to take on the responsibility, someone who is around your age or even younger, and, in many cases, someone who will otherwise benefit from the estate. If your spouse or adult child is already a primary beneficiary of your estate, it makes a lot of sense to consider appointing that person as an executor as well.

The last thing to consider is cooperation. First of all, is the person you’re considering even willing to take on the responsibility? If the answer is yes, will this person be willing to follow the instructions you have set out in your will? If the answer is also yes, will your choice for executor be able to get along with the other beneficiaries. A cooperative person who will happily follow the provisions of your will is likely a good candidate.

So remember, when choosing an executor, think location, relation, and cooperation!



Estate Planning Canada

In Alberta, from a legal point of view a gay or lesbian couple is the same as a heterosexual couple. A more relevant factor may be whether or not the couple has children. A childless couple will often want to appoint adult nieces and nephews, or even younger adult friends, as alternate executors for the wills, alternate attorneys for the powers of attorney, and alternate representatives for the personal directives. On the other hand, a couple with adult children will typically appoint one or more of the children as alternate representatives.


Yes, purchasing US property may subject you to US estate tax. Also, if you live in the US for a significant period of time or acquire US citizenship, you may be subject to US estate tax. I would recommend speaking with a US tax lawyer before you consider purchasing US property, living in the US, or applying for US citizenship.


In most cases, no. I, as an Executor of a Will,  recommend keeping your original will in a safe place or with an executor of a will. If anything ever happens to your original will, sign another will as soon as possible.