Who can be an Executor?
An Executor is the person named in the Will to carry out the instructions in the Will. Anyone who is eighteen or over and is of sound mind can be an Executor. The Executor can be a beneficiary. You can have more than one Executor. Try to choose Executors who will be competent and available to do the job and will not have a possible conflict between their responsibilities and their personal wishes. In Ontario, an Executor is officially called an “Estate Trustee”.
Who can be an Executor?
Jointly held assets, whether real estate, bank accounts or other investments are not part of the Estate. There is a right of survivorship and by law the asset becomes the property of the surviving joint owner, regardless of what the Will says or whether or not there is a Will. Probate fees are not payable on the value of such assets, and ownership can pass without the necessity of a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will (formerly called Letters Probate). If a client arranges his or her affairs so that most of the assets are owned by him or her with another as joint tenants, the value of the property is not part of the Estate for probate fee purposes until the death of the second owner.
One of the goals many people have in Estate Planning is to minimize taxes and other estate administration costs such as probate fees. The purpose of probating a Will is to establish the authority of the personal representative to deal with the estate assets. Although the authority of Executors (now called “Estate Trustees”) stems from the Will, financial institutions and other third parties sometimes require judicial confirmation that the individual purporting to be the Estate Trustee has proper authority. Where there is a Will, the court is simply verifying that it is valid and is the latest Will. If there is no Will, the court is actually appointing the Estate Trustees and their authority to act stems from the court appointment. Terminology has changed. The court used to issue “Letters Probate” to validate a Will and “Letters of Administration” to appoint an Administrator if there was no Will. The court now issues a “Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will” or if there is no Will, a “Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will”.