The Estate Trustee

Posted on 11 December 2020 Back to News

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Updated November 2022 – The appointment of an Estate Trustee (also known as the Executor) is a crucial step in the Estate Planning process. We understand that it is not always an easy decision to make. To make the best possible choice, it is important that you have an understanding of the Estate Trustee’s role.

Your Estate Trustee will be responsible for the administration of your Estate, and their job does not begin until you pass away. The Estate Trustee you appoint in your Will has no authority whatsoever to deal with your assets or business affairs during your lifetime.

Amongst other duties, an Estate Trustee will deal with the following:

  • attending to funeral and burial arrangements;
  • collecting and protecting the assets of the Estate;
  • advertising for creditors and satisfying the liabilities of the Estate;
  • attending to the distribution of Estate assets; and,
  • administering any trust(s) created in your Will.

An Estate Trustee is entitled to “fair and reasonable” compensation pursuant to the Trustee Act. While your Will may directly address the amount of compensation payable, if it does not, the amount of compensation will be calculated based on precedent, and is typically %5 of the total value of your Estate. Estate Trustee compensation is taxable to the Estate Trustee.

When selecting an Estate Trustee, you should turn your mind to the option of appointing multiple Estate Trustees to act jointly, and appointing an alternate Trustee in the event that your first choices are unable or unwilling to act. If you decide to appoint multiple Estate Trustees, consider the likelihood that they will be able to work together, as well as potential logistical problems that may arise if they live far away from each other.

Remember, the role of Estate Trustee is a responsibility, not a privilege. Although it is tempting to select a certain person as your Trustee because you do not want them to feel left out or slighted, you should consider the possibility that the wrong appointment could be burdensome and could even lead to conflict in the administration of your Estate. If such a dispute arises, the beneficiaries of your Estate and the Estate Trustee(s) themselves may find themselves in Court to resolve the dispute. Our Wills & Estates Lawyers can provide you with the advice necessary to make an informed decision about your Estate Trustee appointment.

*The content of this article is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of any kind.  For information or legal advice on your individual circumstances, please contact Our Wills & Estates Law Team.

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