Here is a summary of the top 20 duties of an Executor and Administrator (once appointed by the Court). I thought it would be useful as a checklist for a Personal Representative (Executor or Administrator). Note that not all of these duties will apply to every estate.
1. Make Funeral Arrangements
The Executor has primary authority to make the funeral arrangements and dispose of the deceased’s remains. However, in practice, a family generally makes these arrangements together.
2. Identify Beneficiaries and Next of Kin and Notify Them of Their Interests in the Estate
You must obtain a complete list of the names, addresses, and ages (to identify minors) of the deceased’s spouse, children, and beneficiaries named in the Will. The deceased’s spouse includes common law spouses together for more than two years immediately before death.
You must also give all beneficiaries of the estate a copy of the Will.
3. Prepare an Inventory and Manage the Assets of the Deceased
The Executor will need to conduct a physical search for cash, securities, jewellery, important documents, and other valuables and arrange for their safekeeping. He or she cannot make personal use of estate assets unless it is impractical (i.e., spouses who shared a vehicle).
You will also need to prepare a complete inventory of the estate assets. Estate assets include personal effects, furnishings, artwork, jewellery, bank accounts, securities, bonds, and real estate that are in the name of the deceased. They do not include assets held in joint names or assets with a named beneficiary other than the estate.
The Executor will need to give all assets a value as at the date of death. These values will later be used to calculate the probate fees that apply to estate.
4. Search any Safety Deposit Boxes and Make a List of the Contents
The bank will not allow an Executor to remove the contents until a grant of probate is obtained.
5. Secure the Deceased’s Home and Arrange for the Protection of Vacant Land and Buildings
You will need to advise the apartment manager or police, change locks, and obtain a vacancy permit, if applicable.
6. Notify Insurers, CPP, Old Age Security, Utility and Telephone Companies, ICBC, Passport Canada, CRA and Canada Post
Check for expiry dates on insurance policies and ensure there is adequate insurance for property, vehicles, and valuables.
Canada Post requires a notarially certified copy of the death certificate, a statutory declaration and an application form provided by them.
7. Notify Deceased’s Banks and Financial Institutions
You should cancel the deceased's credit cards. Banks or financial institutions may release money for funeral and probate fee expenses prior to the grant of probate. You can discuss this with the bank at this time.
The Executor may be able to open an estate bank account for limited purposes. However, some banks will not open one until a grant of probate is obtained. An Executor may want to consider an application for an Authorization to Obtain Estate Information under the Supreme Court Civil Rules.
8. Arrange to Pay Ongoing Debts and Expenses of the Deceased and Owed By the Estate
You can either make arrangements to pay for mortgages, leases or other contracts or take steps to postpone payments until the estate can raise sufficient funds.
9. Advise Joint Tenants of Deceased's Death
If there is jointly owned property, advise the other joint tenant of the deceased's death. The surviving joint tenant can take care of transferring the title.
10. Notify Designated Beneficiaries of Deceased's Death
If there are any life insurance policies, RRSPs, RRIPs or any other assets that name a beneficiary other than the estate, notify that beneficiary of the deceased's death.
11. Arrange to Collect any Rent, Loans, and Other Payments Owed to the Estate
12. Apply for Canada Pension Plan Death Benefits, Life Insurance, Employment Pensions, and Any Other Benefit Payable to Deceased’s Estate.
An application for death benefits can be obtained from the CPP website. You must be aware of the time limitations for taking this step.
13. Arrange Interim Management of Business Assets
14. Continue Lawsuits on Behalf of the Estate
If there is a lawsuit against the estate, you should hire a lawyer and continue the lawsuit on behalf of the estate.
15. Apply for a Grant of Probate or Administration
16. Keep Financial Records
The Executor has a duty to keep records and be ready to account to beneficiaries and creditors of the estate. The records must particularize estate income and expenses that have been incurred.
The Executor is entitled to reimbursement from estate for all reasonable expenses incurred in managing the estate. He or she needs to keep good records in case the expense is later challenged by beneficiaries.
17. Advertise for Creditors and Claimants of the Estate
You may publish a notice once in the Gazette requesting claimants against a deceased's estate to present their claim within a specified period (not less than 30 days from publication).
18. Prepare and File the Income Tax Return of the Deceased.
The Executor must pay the taxes before paying the beneficiaries. He or she will need to obtain a Canada Revenue Agency Tax Clearance Certificate.
19. Set Up and Administer Any Trusts Under the Will
20. Distribute the Deceased’s Property In Accordance With the Will or With Intestacy Rules
Whether to act as an Executor or Administrator is an important decision. This should give you a general idea of the duties involved in taking on this role.