The Role of Executors in Estate Administration: Important legal duties

The role of executor in the administration of a deceased’s estate is not an easy undertaking, unless the estate is a very simple affair.  The expert probate and administration lawyers at Rogerson Law Group have years of experience advising administrators and trustees, as well as conducting the administration of estates.

Legal duties

Executors are also the estate trustees.  This means they have legal and administrative duties with which they must comply.  These include: 

  • Collecting in all the assets in the estate and identifying estate debts
  • Submit an inheritance tax return and pay any inheritance tax due
  • Dealing with creditors and discharging debts of the estate
  • Tracing the beneficiaries
  • Distributing legacies and gifts in any will to the appropriate beneficiaries
  • Distributing the net estate to the beneficiary/ies
  • Preparing and distributing estate accounts

Executors need to be able to communicate effectively with and update beneficiaries as to how the administration is going.  Failure to respond to beneficiaries’ queries and concerns can lead to serious problems with the estate. 

Further information about executors’ duties

When problems arise

Acting as an executor requires skill and commitment and it’s not unusual for executors to become overwhelmed by the work entailed in the administration.  However, the way in which executors handle problems is critical: delaying in dealing with an issue, taking short cuts or even (even in some cases) acting unlawfully will delay the administration of the estate and could lead to legal proceedings against executors personally.

In some instances, an executor’s conduct can lead to the beneficiary/ies suffering financial loss.  For example, an executor who fails to sell the deceased’s property at market value may be personally liable to the benefiaries for the difference between the market value and sale price.

Executors who fail to discharge their legal duties can be ordered by the court to take specific action to facilitate the timely administration of the estate.  The court also has the power to order an executor not to take a certain step, and can even replace the existing executor with another executor. Unusually, in extreme circumstances, the court can take over the administration of the estate from an executor.

How can we help?

With expert legal assistance, acting as an executor need not be difficult task.  If you are an executor, contact the experienced estate and administration lawyers at Rogerson Law Group for legal advice and support.  We have years of experience representing executors and trustees in the administration of estates – from simple estates to complex and high value estates where assets and benefiaries are located in other jurisdictions.  Contact us now for urgent advice.

Rogerson Law Group provides estate litigation services in Toronto & entire GTA including Scarborough, Mississauga, Vaughan, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, and Barrie and surrounding areas with offices located in downtown Toronto, Barrie, and associated offices in Ottawa.

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