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Carrying out the final wishes someone has expressed in their Will can be complex. If you’re considering naming someone as your executor1 or if you’ve been named as one, we can help make the process easier for you.

Choosing an executor

Partnering with an experienced professional to manage your estate can help provide peace of mind about how your final wishes will be carried out. At RBC Royal Trust, we work with you to assess and guide you through the tasks and responsibilities your executor will face.

You can rely on our experience in handling sensitive family issues with compassion and objectivity. We can also tap into the extensive resources of RBC to ensure your estate is settled with maximum benefit to your beneficiaries.

Sole executor services

You can appoint us in your Will to act independently to carry out your wishes. This is ideal for individuals who:

  • Are considering who to appoint as the executor for their estate
  • Prefer that an objective professional handles everything
  • Feel the process of settling an estate is too complex for family or friends
  • Have no family or friends to act as executor
  • Are struggling with a challenging family situation

Co-executor services

You can appoint us in your Will to act alongside another person to carry out your wishes. This is ideal for individuals who:

  • Are considering who to appoint as the executor for their estate
  • Want a close friend or family member involved but don’t want to burden them with administrative tasks
  • Prefer that a professional handles all the technical aspects of their estate settlement and makes decisions jointly with the person chosen as co-executor
  • Are struggling with a challenging family situation

How to choose an executor

When planning your estate and creating your Will, choosing an executor is an important decision. You can name anyone, such as a family member or friend, a trust company, lawyer or accountant. However, choosing the wrong person could prove costly to your estate and cause—or intensify—family conflicts.

Your executor may be responsible for more than 70 individual tasks, so choose someone who is:

  • Trustworthy and can reliably carry out the instructions in your Will
  • Capable of making fair decisions and balancing conflicting interests
  • Willing and able to put in many hours of work over several months
  • Knowledgeable in legal, tax and administrative issues
  • Likely to survive you

While it’s an honour to be an executor, many people find the duties demanding—particularly while they grieve the loss of a loved one. Many also lack the time or ability to take on the tasks, especially if they live in another city, province or country.

We can also act as an alternate executor if your initial executor is unwilling or unable to fulfill their responsibilities.

For executors

As an executor, your role is essential to the estate settlement process. Your responsibility is to ensure your loved one’s final wishes are fulfilled as stated in their Will.

While it's an honour, at times your duties may seem endless and complex—including making final arrangements, probating the Will2, managing investments, selling real estate, paying off debts and dealing with beneficiaries.

Our free tools can help you understand the estate you’re settling and guide you through the various tasks involved.

Agent for executor services

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t have the time or are unsure how to proceed, we can offer you knowledgeable support through our agent for executor services.

We handle some or all of your executor duties, while you retain the final decision-making authority. These duties may include:

  • Arranging for a funeral, memorial, cremation or burial as required
  • Locating and preparing a detailed inventory of assets
  • Handling of complex tax matters that can maximize an estate’s value for beneficiaries
  • Arranging for the residence to be emptied and cleaned, locks to be changed and, if required, the property to be sold
  • Finding, reviewing and filing claims for life insurance and pension benefits
  • Locating missing beneficiaries
  • Resolving challenging family issues, fairly and professionally

Five tips for executors

  1. Assess whether you have the time and resources to perform the duties required. If you don’t have the time, knowledge or resources, you may renounce your duties before you get involved in the estate.
  2. Maintain ongoing communication with all parties involved in the estate. You may have to deal with beneficiaries that are unhappy about what they will receive and how quickly assets can be distributed.
  3. Stay organized. Be meticulous with your record-keeping. Keep all aspects of the estate separate from your own funds, as you’ll need to prepare tax returns and provide an account to beneficiaries.
  4. Always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. You will be held to the highest level of trust and integrity. If things go wrong, you can be held personally liable to beneficiaries by the courts.
  5. Know when to seek professional advice. Assistance from a trust company such as RBC Royal Trust and other professionals can give you peace of mind.

1 In Quebec, “liquidator”, in Ontario, “estate trustee with a Will.”
2 Probate is not required for notarial Wills in Quebec, and may not be required in other jurisdictions in limited circumstances.

Contact one of our skilled RBC Royal Trust professionals to find out more about the right executor services for you.