June 15, 2023 | Danny McMullen and Luke Giffen
The Executor’s Role in Estate Administration
Read on to ensure you’re checking off the necessary boxes
In the province of Ontario, the process of estate administration involves the appointment of executors and administrators who are responsible for managing and distributing a deceased person’s assets. Understanding the specific role and responsibilities of executors and administrators in Ontario is crucial for individuals fulfilling these roles and beneficiaries involved in the estate settlement. In this blog post, we will explore the key aspects of the role of executors and administrators in estate administration in Ontario.
- Legal Appointment:
Executors and administrators in Ontario are appointed through a legal process. If the deceased person left a valid will, they would typically name an executor(s) in the will. However, if there is no will or no executor is named, the court will appoint an administrator(s). The appointment of an executor or administrator grants them the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
- Collecting and Inventorying Assets:
Executors and administrators have the responsibility of identifying and collecting the deceased person’s assets. This includes bank accounts, investments, real estate, personal belongings, and other property owned by the decedent. They must also prepare a comprehensive inventory of the assets, valuing them accurately as of the date of death.
- Paying Debts and Taxes:
One of the primary duties of executors and administrators is to settle the deceased person’s debts and taxes. They are responsible for notifying creditors, reviewing and evaluating outstanding debts, and paying them from the estate’s funds. Executors and administrators must also file the deceased person’s final income tax return and, if applicable, the estate’s tax returns.
- Distributing Assets:
Once debts, taxes, and expenses have been settled, executors and administrators are responsible for distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. In Ontario, this distribution should follow the instructions outlined in the deceased person’s will. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed according to the province’s intestacy laws. Executors and administrators must ensure a fair and proper distribution of assets among the beneficiaries.
- Accounting and Reporting:
Executors and administrators have a legal obligation to maintain accurate records of the estate’s financial transactions. They must keep detailed accounts of income, expenses, and distributions. In Ontario, beneficiaries are entitled to request an accounting of the estate’s administration. Executors and administrators must provide these accountings as required by law.
- Legal and Financial Advice:
Due to the complexities of estate administration, executors and administrators in Ontario often seek professional guidance from estate lawyers, accountants, and other experts. These professionals can provide invaluable advice, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and help navigate potential challenges throughout the process. If you have any questions surrounding the distribution of an estate, please feel free to reach out to us and we’d be happy to help!
- Timeframes and Deadlines:
Executors and administrators in Ontario should be aware of various timeframes and deadlines associated with estate administration. For example, they must file the application for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (commonly known as probate) within a certain timeframe. This process is known as probating the will, and it essentially asks the court to either: give a person the authority to act as the estate trustee, confirm the authority named in the will, or approve the deceased’s will as their valid last will and testament.
Additionally, there are deadlines for filing tax returns and providing notice to beneficiaries. Adhering to these timeframes is crucial to avoid unnecessary delays and penalties. In Ontario, there is a concept known as the “executor’s year” which means that for simple estates, an executor is granted one year from either the date of date or the date of probate to distribute the assets of the estate. The year is intended to grant time to the executor to ensure that everything is in order.
Executors and administrators in Ontario play a vital role in estate administration, ensuring the proper management and distribution of a deceased person’s assets. Familiarizing yourself with their responsibilities and obligations can help facilitate a smooth probate process. Whether you are serving as an executor or administrator or you are a beneficiary involved in the estate administration, understanding the specific role in Ontario provides clarity and guidance for a successful estate settlement.