Estate Planning 101

Executor Role Beneficiary Final Wish Important Decision

My parents asked me to be their Executor. What are my main duties and responsibilities?


The duties of Executor require you to take on the responsibility of administering your parents’ estate and carrying out their last wishes. Here are some points you will need to consider when handling their estate:

  • Locate the will and/or codicil and review to determine whether there are any special funeral directions.
  • Assist in funeral arrangements if necessary.
  • Talk to an estate lawyer to obtain notarized copies of the will.
  • Locate contact information for all beneficiaries.
  • Review need to open estate bank account—this can help you keep track of money as it is received by the estate.
  • Obtain copies of the death certificate (you can get more than one) from the funeral director.
  • Arrange for safe custody of any valuables, such as cash, securities, jewellery and other valuables.
  • Review real estate information.
  • Gather information regarding the deceased’s RRSP’s, RRIF’s, annuities, pension and any other type of retirement plan.
  • Make a list of outstanding debts and liabilities.
  • Notify Service Canada to arrange cancellation of Canada Pension and/or Old Age Security payments.
  • List and cancel driver license, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, cable, club memberships, telephone, internet etc. and arrange for refunds if available.
  • Cancel health insurance coverage.
  • Notify life insurance companies of the death and include an original copy of the death certificate.
  • Lock up the residence if the deceased lived alone, and arrange for security and maintenance until arrangements are made according to the will.
  • If necessary, change the address with Canada Post to reroute any mail.
  • Locate and obtain the documents for real estate, mortgages, share certificates, bond, debentures, and Guaranteed Investment Certificates.
  • Contact credit card and/or loan companies to ascertain the balance owing and arrange for payment or cancellation.
Final Thought…

Don't prepare your will and then forget about it. It is recommended that you review your will and choice of Executor regularly at a minimum every 3 years. Changes that should trigger a review of your will include events such as a marriage, a divorce, the birth of a child or relocating to another province or country. When reviewing your will, also consider if you have still made the best choice in who you named as the executor of your estate.


August 2016
Gitta Arend
Branch Manager
Cartile Financial Services Inc.