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Estate solutions

Easing the burden of estate settlement

Choosing an executor or acting as one? Our estate solutions can help

Settling an estate is a complex task of carrying out someone’s final wishes expressed in their Will, and according to provincial laws.

If you are considering naming someone as executor or if you are an executor yourself, we can help make the process easier.

Our executor services include:

Acting as either a co-executor or sole executor to carry out a person’s wishes

Agent for executor, a valuable service for executors who want to delegate some or all of the following duties to a third party:

  • 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

Choosing an executor

When planning your estate and creating your Will, choosing an executor 1 to carry out your wishes is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You can name anyone as executor in your Will, like a family member or friend, a trust company, lawyer or accountant, but choosing the wrong person could prove costly to your estate and cause—or intensify—family conflicts.

Who makes a good executor?

Among other considerations, your executor should be 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 are grieving 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.

How we can help

Having a seasoned professional handling your estate can provide peace of mind that your final wishes will be carried out. An RBC Royal Trust professional can help you assess the tasks and responsibilities you face and offer a customized level of support. We handle sensitive family issues with compassion and objectivity, and tap into the extensive resources of RBC to ensure your estate is settled with maximum benefit to your beneficiaries.

You can choose from two types of traditional executor services:

Sole executor services

We are appointed in a Will to act independently to carry out your wishes.

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

We are appointed in a Will to act alongside another person to carry out your wishes.

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

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

Acting as an executor

Did you know?

There can be over 70 individual tasks involved, and estates can take years to settle, depending on the complexity.

Our free online assessment can help you learn more about the estate you are settling.

As an executor 1, your role is essential to the estate settlement process. Your responsibility is to ensure that your loved one’s final wishes are fulfilled as stated in their Will.

While it’s an honour, your duties at times can seem endless and complex—ranging from making final arrangements, probating the Will 2, managing investments, selling real estate, paying off debts and dealing with beneficiaries.

5 Tips if you are named executor

  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 unhappy beneficiaries about what they will receive and how quickly assets can be distributed.
  3. Stay organized and 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. You will be held to the highest level of trust and integrity. Always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. 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.

How we can help

If you are an executor and 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. As an Agent for Executor, we will assume as much or as little of the duties as you require, while you retain the final decision-making authority.

Agent for executor services

We handle some or all of your duties while you ultimately make all the final decisions.

Ideal for individuals who:

  • Have been appointed executor and are now required to act
  • Need help with certain aspects of their duties
  • Find their family situation challenging and need the sensitivity and expertise of an impartial third party
  • Lack the time, expertise or desire to administer an estate
  • Live outside the city, province or country where the estate is located
  • Want to retain final decision-making authority while benefiting from professional expertise

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