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How to Execute a Will

The estate executor will be responsible for carrying out the will’s instructions and overseeing the distribution of an estate’s assets. Here's what you need to know

Couple Executing Will

A will is probably the most important document you’ll need as an estate executor. Because over half of all Canadians and Americans are still going through life without a will, it’s important to speak to your loved ones about creating a legally binding will that provides clear instructions for what will happen to someone’s estate when they pass. Dying without a will can leave your estate executor in a lurch, cause headaches for your beneficiaries, and open up the possibility of your wishes being ignored completely.

If someone dies with a will, then the executor needs to locate the will ASAP. The process of executing the will, ie. validating the will and beginning the process of carrying out its instructions, is known as probate. The estate executor will be responsible for carrying out the will’s instructions and overseeing the distribution of an estate’s assets, so the sooner the probate process can begin, the sooner an estate can be settled.

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Submitting the will to probate court

The first step an executor needs to take is submitting the will to the appropriate probate court. Important reminder: The will can only be submitted to the court of the province or territory in which the estate holder passed away.

Authenticating the will

Once the will is submitted to the appropriate probate court, the court will authenticate the will. Basically, this just means that the court will bestow its stamp of approval upon the will, including the naming of the executor, and give an official declaration that the executor is authorized to settle the estate. Although this step may sound kind of redundant, many banks and other financial institutions require a court-issued authorization before they’ll allow an executor to access the deceased estate holder’s assets.

This step will also determine if anyone contests the will, or if there are any objections to the executor nominated in the will.

Being officially named the estate executor

Once the estate executor has been officially authorized by the probate court, it’s time to start settling the estate. This is where the real work for the executor begins. They’ll have to start compiling a list of the estate’s assets, appraise the value of the estate, stay in touch with beneficiaries and keep them informed of the probate process, and much more.

If this sounds daunting, don’t worry: We’ve got an overview of an executor’s most pressing responsibilities, and if you’re in the thick of it, come speak to us. At ClearEstate, we’ll provide you with a competent partner who’ll help you navigate the estate settlement world, including detailed checklists, personalized assistance, and much more.

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