All About Estates

Decease and Assist

This Blog was written by: Robert Boyd

A friend recently asked me, how much time would be required to administer an estate? Estate administration isn’t typically the topic of conversation within my group of friends; however, it became clear that he had been approached to act as an executor by a family member.

I asked him why he would consider such a request and he mentioned that he was flattered to be asked and the request demonstrated the level of trust that this person holds in him. There was also a hint of an obligation he felt toward this particular family member. As we fleshed out our conversation a little further, I came to the conclusion that he would make an excellent executor. He is trustworthy, has knowledge of the financial services, has common sense in abundance, knows how to get things done and is considerably younger than the family member in question.

Although he would be highly capable of administering the estate, his hesitation to accept the appointment was palpable, particularly when I informed him that a typical estate administration can take between 12-18 months and can consume hundreds of hours depending on the complication involved. His trepidation was centred on his priorities in life, he has a hectic work schedule, is enrolled in numerous continuing education programs, has a young family & work-life balance is very important to him. In other words, his plate is pretty full and the little spare time he does have, he would like to spend pursuing what he considers important.

I assume this situation rings true to many people but it is important to keep in mind that having the capability to administer an estate does not mean that you need to handle every facet of the process. In fact, reaching out for assistance with the laborious administration of an estate may be the best alternative to declining to act in the first place. Retaining a trust company or a law firm to assist with the administration can help an executor fulfil their duties, without having to deal with the administrative burden.
The advantages of seeking assistance are as follows:
1. Reduces the risk of personal liability
2. Save time and peace of mind
3. Choose the level of assistance you need
4. Accelerate completion of the estate administration
5. Access to experts in tax, estate and trust law, investments & record keeping
6. Benefit from years of experience

Finally, the most appealing benefit for me is that this conversation can be had with the testator at the planning stage and there will be no formal commitment to retain an agent until the person passes away. A wait and see approach can give an executor the confidence to accept an appointment and create the peace of mind that comes with knowing help is there if needed.

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About Paul Fensom
Scotiatrust offers a full range of estate, trust and philanthropic advisory services designed to meet a client’s personal objectives and designed to evolve across a variety of life stages and financial events. Email: