Many people who accept the role of Estate Trustee, despite their best intentions, often approach it reactively. This leads to additional stress at what often is an emotionally charged time following the death of a friend or loved one. So, how can you effectively prepare to efficiently execute the duties when the time comes?
Here are six proactive tips for newly appointed Estate Trustees:
- Get an Estate Trustee Task Checklist - A checklist helps guide efforts, establish task priority, and can make the daunting task of estate settlement more manageable. RBC Wealth Management has checklists here for this type of guidance. Understanding the responsibilities ahead of time will ensure you are aware of what you are getting into.
- Encourage the Testator to Pre-Plan their Funeral - If the Testator has pre-planned (and, if possible, pre-paid for) their funeral arrangements, this reduces the load of immediate decisions on the Estate Trustee while they get their bearings. Arbor Memorial’s free resource guides here provide helpful information on these topics.
- Ask the Testator to Collect all Relevant Paperwork - Ensure that all investment and insurance related paperwork is gathered and stored with the Will documents. This will save time and effort combing through paperwork to find what is needed to take action.
- Ask the Testator to Make an Assets and Liabilities List - Encourage the Testator to create a list of all of their assets and liabilities (including insurance policies and pension plans), that summarizes the amounts, the institutions/organizations associated with each, and the related contacts along with the appropriate contact phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Date the list to indicate when it was last updated and encourage the Testator to update this list at least annually.
- Ask the Testator to Make a List of Personal Accounts & Passwords - Creating a list of computer password(s), e-mail, social media, CRA and any other online accounts and passwords will make it much easier to discontinue these accounts when the need arises. This helps to prevent identity theft, which is always a risk.
- Seek Professional Support - Being selected as an Estate Trustee is an indication that you are a trusted and responsible member of the Testator’s circle and they feel you have the intellectual ability to wrap up their affairs. This does not mean that you should do all of the heavy lifting yourself. As Estate Trustee, you have the ability to hire service providers to help you execute your role responsibly i.e. a lawyer, an accountant, an integrated real estate and transition services company, etc. For the Toronto region, Resolved is a company that assists in executing Estate Trustee duties.
If you or someone you know will be acting as an Estate Trustee or is currently doing so in Ontario, you can find more resources on the execution of the real and personal property related tasks here. If you’d like a free no obligation consultation, contact us today.
* Note - The resources mentioned in this blog or not intended as endorsements for the companies or services, they are simply suggestions of relevant reference materials that might be helpful to readers for further investigation.