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Think twice before naming a friend or family member as your executor

Published on: August 12th, 2021

Research has shown that most Canadians name a family member or friend in their will as executor of their estate. While this may seem like a natural choice, it may not always be the best one.

Your executor is personally responsible for your estate. Settling an estate is complex and involves a variety of time-consuming, complicated duties. If you’re considering naming an adult child, a surviving spouse, a relative, or a friend, make sure it’s someone who can handle all the complexities and potential conflicts involved, along with the time commitment. Even simple estates can take up to two years to wind up.

You can name co-executors, but they need to work well together. A more effective strategy is often to appoint a primary executor, and then name one or two alternates. Just because you appoint someone as your executor, it doesn’t mean they have to go it alone. Your executor can choose to hire a professional to help out (such as an attorney, accountant, or trust company), but will still ultimately make all the decisions. Or, if you prefer, you can indicate in your will that a professional executor will handle your estate.

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