Who Should I Choose as My Executor?

Executor, Estate Planning,

In Nova Scotia, your Executor is the person you designate in your Will to be legally responsible for distributing your assets to the beneficiaries you name after you’ve died. They’re also technically responsible for handling your remains. It is a very important role with heavy financial consequences attached to it, as such it is important to select someone who is up to the task.

In most cases people will pick their spouse or adult child to act as their Executor. However there are lots of circumstances where this choice does not make sense. Your Executor should be someone who you trust to follow your wishes when you’re gone. It should be someone who is reasonably level headed and capable of dealing with legal and financial documents. The person you appoint does not necessarily have to live in the same place as you do, although in some cases it does make it more convenient.

Often people will select the main beneficiary under the Will to act as Executor. In a lot of cases this is an excellent idea as it cuts down on a lot of potential for conflict. However, if the person you wish to benefit under your Will may not emotionally in a position to handle the responsibility upon your death, you may wish to reconsider.

If you do not know someone personally who you think would be capable of fulfilling the Executor role, then there are trust companies in Nova Scotia that you can appoint to act in that capacity for you. Companies like this will typically charge a percentage of the value of your estate to act on your behalf. Some other professionals like lawyers and accountants may also be willing to act as Executor.

Most people appoint just one Executor. You can have multiple Executors; however, consider that if you appoint multiple Executors they are going to have to come to agreement on every decision that needs to be made. Sometimes this creates a sense of peacefulness knowing that they all had a hand in making the important decisions, and sometimes it creates a headache, which  may need to be resolved with expensive litigation in Nova Scotia Probate Court.

It is advisable, if possible, to name an alternate Executor. This would be the person who would fulfill the role if your first choice was not available. As an example, if you appointed your spouse as Executor and both died in an accident together, your Will would be forced into probate if you didn’t have an alternate Executor named (to learn more about probate read my recent blogs What is involved in Probate in Nova Scotia’ and ‘What is an Executor’s and what are their Duties and job?’)

As the Executor has the final say on all the ultimate distribution of all of your assets, and you won’t be around to provide guidance, it is important to consider who would be the best choice in your circumstance.  

If you feel it would be beneficial to discuss your personal situation with a lawyer for assistance in choosing an Executor, we’d be happy to help.

If you have any questions about choosing an Executor, we'd be happy to help.  If you have any questions about incorporating you can call us at (902) 826-3070 or email us at info@highlanderlaw.ca to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers at our Tantallon law firm. You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.

By: Dianna M. Rievaj LLB, MBA - Managing Partner

The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Nothing contained on this blog is legal advice or constitutes a legal opinion. While it is our goal to provide information which is current, legislative changes and court decisions, among other matters, may result in some information no longer being current or accurate. You should consult a lawyer before relying on any information. The views expressed herein by individual contributing lawyers posting entries to the blog are solely those of the authors and should not necessarily be attributed to or considered representative of the firm of Highlander Law Group Lawyers.