Welcome to the Executor Support and Estate Blog

Who Should I Appoint as My Executor?

Planning an estate or preparing a will involves important decision making. Every year, Canadians consider which items to include in their will. Some of these items include choosing a guardian for their children and who will obtain their assets.

However, one of the most important choices Canadians should consider is who they name as the executor to their will or estate plans. After all, this person will be responsible for all financial obligations.


Read more: Who Should I Appoint as My Executor?

Anthony Bourdain’s passing gives Canadians Insight Toward Program Rewards After Death.

When preparing your estate plan or will, it’s important to include all of your possessions and finances; making sure that you’ve covered all the bases. Some of the first assets that Canadians include in their estate plans and will include savings accounts, TFSA’s, credit cards, property, and debt.

However, do you have plans for including your loyalty program points into your estate plan or will?

The recent passing of the globally-renowned celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, has reminded Canadians to never overlook their assets or property.

Read more: Anthony Bourdain’s passing gives Canadians Insight Toward Program Rewards After Death.

Inside Aretha Franklin’s Inevitable $80 Million Estate Feud

When a legendary performer dies, it’s usually expected that they have a detailed and extensive will or estate plan in place.

Unfortunately, the recent news of the death of legendary singer Aretha Franklin reminds us that this is not always the case.


Read more: Inside Aretha Franklin’s Inevitable $80 Million Estate Feud

What Will Happen to Our Cottage? The Co-Owners Predicament

Cottaging with family and friends is a quintessential part of summer life in Canada and a beloved part of many childhood memories.

Unfortunately, this sentimental value intertwined with  many cottages makes them a common target for estate disputes and conflicts, especially when there are co-owners involved.


Read more: What Will Happen to Our Cottage? The Co-Owners Predicament

Who Gets Your Estate When You Don’t Have a Will?

Often one of the most important aspects of planning for your future is overlooked - creating your will. According to a recent 2018 poll, a surprising 51% of Canadians are without a will or estate plan.

Why are so many Canadians neglecting this important procedure? And what happens to their estate when they do?


Read more: Who Gets Your Estate When You Don’t Have a Will?

The Legal Concern for Executors and Cyber Security That No One Discusses

Most executors don’t think of themselves holding legal liability as a fiduciary, but this can become overwhelmingly apparent in the digital era.

Cyber security and its related risks present a large source for potential executors and their advisors to think about.

We recently heard of a large data storage facility operator that suffered physical damage to its server facility. The accident was serious enough that it also defeated redundancy protections; its clients lost their data as a result.

Read more: The Legal Concern for Executors and Cyber Security That No One Discusses

What Happens When An Estate Gets Reopened?

The misconception surrounding 'closed' estates and why an estate can never really be closed.

Being the executor of an estate can be a lengthy and tiresome job. Once an executor has paid all of the estate bills, distributed the assets to beneficiaries, and received a clearance letter from the CRA, you'd think your job would be finished.

That's not always the case. 

Read more: What Happens When An Estate Gets Reopened?

Cryptocurrency Creates A New Role: The Electronic Estate Executor

Many Canadians wish they had bought cryptocurrency as the value of a single BitCoin rose from $1,229 to $17,618 throughout 2017 (in Canadian dollars). Everyday investors have begun to dive into the Bitcoin craze to make their fortunes even though the cryptocurrency has received criticism financial experts around the globe.

Read more: Cryptocurrency Creates A New Role: The Electronic Estate Executor

Can a Murderer Collect as a Beneficiary of the Victim’s Life Insurance?

Toronto estates lawyer Ian Hull recently published an article that appeared in the Toronto Star involving such a case in the United States. His commentary on this issue within a Canadian context sheds light on how this situation could unfold.

Read more: Can a Murderer Collect as a Beneficiary of the Victim’s Life Insurance?

Use Client Communication to Erase Estate Planning Tension Ahead of Time

When it comes to settling an estate, the word “tension” seems to appear frequently. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of tension is as follows:



Read more: Use Client Communication to Erase Estate Planning Tension Ahead of Time

2018 Estate Planning: Social Media, Cryptocurrency, and How to Handle Digital Assets

Every new year brings new technology to make our lives easier and more efficient, but as you sign up for electronic billing, new social media accounts, and financial planning apps consider this - does anyone else have your passwords?

Including digital assets in your estate plan has become a reality in recent years, and 2018 is no exception. While some people are beginning to plan ahead by using password storage solutions such as Passpack, many Canadians are still not even considering the fact that their Executor could be locked out of very pivotal accounts with essential information.

When you’re making your estate plan, take the following three steps to make sure your digital assets are properly included.

Read more: 2018 Estate Planning: Social Media, Cryptocurrency, and How to Handle Digital Assets

Michael Jackson’s $500 Million Estate Debt and How To Avoid the Mistakes That Created It.

It has been eight years since the death of 'The King of Pop', yet his estate is still in distress.  

Michael Jackson will forever be the ‘King of Pop’, however, his untimely death in 2009 revealed that he left behind a debt of $500 million for his estate.

Jackson had been known for his lavish taste in furniture, artwork, and ownership of musical rights. Ultimately, this left him with surmounting debt. Forensic accountant William R. Ackerman has spoken publicly about Jackson’s spending habits.

Read more: Michael Jackson’s $500 Million Estate Debt and How To Avoid the Mistakes That Created It.

Can a Relative’s Vendetta Cause Your Estate Financial Harm?

A relative’s grudge can cause serious financial harm to your estate. A recent case shows how much damage can happen.


We all have fights with our relatives. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are perfect examples of family gatherings where relatives air their grievances, addressing family issues in front of everyone.

While nothing seems worse in the moment, family grievances and vendettas can affect much more than your holiday plans—your estate plan could be at risk as well.

Recently, a family member’s reprehensible behaviour caused extreme financial harm to an estate.


Read more: Can a Relative’s Vendetta Cause Your Estate Financial Harm?

Using Technology to Streamline Will-Planning

Throughout the past decade, technology has transformed the world immensely. Tools like social media and video messaging are subjects that people could only dream of 30 years ago.  

The practice of law has arguably been slower to embrace new technologies.

Will and estate planning, however,  just got a much-needed overhaul for 2017.

Read more: Using Technology to Streamline Will-Planning

What To Do With The Family Cottage: Four Ways To Pass It On

Spending time at the family cottage is one of the greatest perks of Canadian living, yet along with all of those great memories comes the potential for an inheritance debate. 

Every family who owns a cottage will one day have to ask themselves, “how do we pass it on?” Unfortunately, there is no single answer to that question.

“There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to estate planning and cottages.  It really does depend on a person’s circumstances and goals.” - Tarsem Basraon, TD Wealth

Romana King explores the cottage inheritance debate on MoneySense.ca and recommends four methods for passing on your family cottage.  

Read more: What To Do With The Family Cottage: Four Ways To Pass It On

Is Your Charitable Gift a Tax Shelter? Learn from the Leibovitz Controversy

Charitable gifts are steadily gaining popularity among Canadians. While including a charitable gift in your will is not a new concept, more and more people are choosing to make charitable gifts while they are still living, too.  

This seemingly perfect way to gift your assets to your loved ones and organizations comes with a warning, however, as questions of tax shelters begin to arise.

The four-year Canadian controversy over a $20 million dollar Annie Leibovitz collection serves as an example for all Canadians of the potential dangers one must consider before deciding to make a charitable gift, but first let’s answer the question of “what is a tax shelter?”

Read more: Is Your Charitable Gift a Tax Shelter? Learn from the Leibovitz Controversy

Estate Planning In 2017: How to Include Passwords, Online Banking, Social Media and Other Digital Assets

Canadians are embracing new digital technology and tools to help them in all aspects of their lives, including financial management. Estate planning must evolve in the 21st century to accommodate this new trend or else face leaving behind a frustrating digital maze for executors and beneficiaries to navigate.

“86% of Canadians use at least one financial online tool.”  - Estate Planning In the 21st Century: New Considerations In A Changing Society, BMO Wealth Management 

An interesting case study released by BMO Wealth Institute of Canada outlines the importance of adding these new digital assets to your estate plan. The survey also revealed some important facts that Canadians should know, as well as some practical steps to take when adding these properties to your plan.

Read more: Estate Planning In 2017: How to Include Passwords, Online Banking, Social Media and Other...

Important Inheritance Planning Facts and Steps for Canadians

The modern Canadian family looks very different than it did 50 years ago. Family dynamics are more complex and it makes inheritance planning a difficult task for most people.

“In Canada, 12.6% of all families with children aged 24 or less – more than 460,000 Canadian families – are stepfamilies.” - Estate planning for complex family dynamics, BMO Wealth Management

Recently, BMO Wealth Management commissioned a survey to ask Canadians about their views on inheritance planning and the surrounding discussions. It revealed some interesting statistics that are important for all Canadians to know, as well as some practical next steps for those who have yet to create an inheritance plan.

Read more: Important Inheritance Planning Facts and Steps for Canadians

Top Seven Questions Canadians Ask About Estate Administration

Administering an estate can be difficult and bring about many questions.

Keep reading to learn the answers to the top seven questions Canadians have asked ERAssure

about their estates over the past five years. 


Read more: Top Seven Questions Canadians Ask About Estate Administration

Who Gets the Tickets? Disputing a Bare Trust

Complex client estate disputes can often begin over the simplest things, like a pair of seasonal tickets.

That exact situation was covered in a recent article by All About Estates, in which the passing of Mr. Chaim Neuberger caused friction between his daughter, Edie, and his company, Nuspor, over a pair of seasonal tickets for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Read more: Who Gets the Tickets? Disputing a Bare Trust

Who Gets The Seasons Tickets on Death? Perhaps Not Whom You’d Expect

When you’re planning your estate, you have to remember that what may seem like a trivial detail may end up causing a dispute, like if you own seasonal tickets to a sporting event.

That exact situation was covered in a recent article by All About Estates, in which the passing of Mr. Chaim Neuberger caused friction between his daughter, Edie, and his company, Nuspor, over a pair of seasonal tickets for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Read more: Who Gets The Seasons Tickets on Death? Perhaps Not Whom You’d Expect

The 4 Need-to-Know Dangers of Late-Life Will Changes

Everyone should have the right to make alterations to their own will, but this seemingly simple request becomes more complicated as you age.

An excellent article by Charles Ticker from The Sibling Fight tells the story of Eva Rova Barnes, a 95-year-old women living in Bremerton, Washington, who is the perfect example of the difficulties that can arise.

Read more: The 4 Need-to-Know Dangers of Late-Life Will Changes

How Lawyers Can Avoid Late-Life Will Change Trouble

Assisting your clients with estate planning is a complicated task wrought with challenges both legal and client-related.

This is especially true when it comes to late-life will changes.

Lawyers need to be aware of the risks that are involved in assisting clients with their late-life will updates - and most importantly, how to reduce those risks. 


Read more: How Lawyers Can Avoid Late-Life Will Change Trouble

Avoiding the Inheritance Trap

Many parents want to leave as much cash and property as they can to their children. However, as Mark Goodfield notes in his Globe and Mail article, there are tax, probate and inheritance traps that can cause missteps for those doing the planning.

These mistakes can result in inheritance conflicts, the payment of additional income taxes and most importantly, prevent parents from achieving their goal of maximizing their family’s wealth...read full article

Appointing all Your Children as Executors can be a Mistake

Two brothers fighting.

While most people appoint a spouse or child to act as executor in their will, a recent blog post by Charles Ticker underscores the importance of careful consideration when appointing ALL your children.



Read more: Appointing all Your Children as Executors can be a Mistake

Public knows little about estates matters, survey finds

LawPRO survey

A recent Law Times article indicates that the general public’s view of estates includes a lot of misinformation and ignorance, according to an online survey by LawPRO.

The professional indemnity insurer questioned 1,500 Canadians about the treatment of their debts and assets after death and found just one-third of respondents understood what would happen to them. The remaining 67 per cent either had no idea at all or they had the wrong perception altogether.

The survey is the latest in a series as part of a public awareness campaign highlighting the value of lawyers in estate planning. Last year, a similar survey commissioned by LawPRO revealed more than half of Canadian adults don’t have a will and almost three-quarters were living without a...read more.


The Executor's Challenge

The Executor's ChallengeDisgruntled beneficiaries are increasingly prepared to challenge wills, often leaving executors struggling to carry out the deceased’s instructions. 

By Marg Bruineman
For Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Instructions from beyond the grave can be a difficult thing. As with most things, wills too have limitations.

Disgruntled beneficiaries are increasingly prepared to contest wills, and sometimes litigation is anticipated by the testator. Often at the centre of it all is the executor, struggling to carry out the desire of the deceased. But how far should he or she go in fulfilling the will?

“The executor is definitely supposed to be neutral between the beneficiaries because the executor is responsible to the estate as a whole,” says Lynne Butler, senior will and estate planner with Scotia Private Client Group in St. John’s, Nfdl. So even if a beneficiary desires a property within the estate, the executor may instead decide that putting it on the market would be in the best interest of all the beneficiaries.

Read more: The Executor's Challenge

What is Executor Risk?

What is Executor InsuranceERAssure, a Kitchener, Ontario-based insurance provider, recently launched its executor liability insurance product to the broker channel. Canadian Insurance Top Broker spoke with Scot Dalton, CEO of Estate Risk Protection Plan Inc., marketing under the name ERAssure, about executor risk and why this product was necessary.


What is executor risk? 

Executor risk is the personal liability that an individual assumes when they manage the administration of the estate of another person. Executors are responsible for their conduct in assembling the assets of an estate, protecting them and determining the actual value of those assets. They also need to determine who’s owed money, including guarantees of debt that mom or dad might have provided for. They have to figure out who is a family member or a descendant and that can be challenging in these days of divorce, re-marriage, extended families, and non-traditional families. They also have to file income tax and they have to account for all of these activities before they distribute the money to the people that are owed money.

Read more: What is Executor Risk?

Minimize Executor Liability

Minimize Executor LiabilityMany clients will become executors for parents, family members or close friends. But the job’s responsibilities may expose them to significant liability, writes James Dolan in this advisor.ca article

For concerned Executors insurance is a viable solution.  (read more)


How to Approach Your Parents About Their Will

How to Approach Your Parents About Their WillAs the Baby Boomer generation ages, so do their parents.  Conversations between siblings and their parents about money and finances are traditionally taboo, yet as parents age the management of their finances have an increasingly greater impact on their children, as they become involved with care decisions.   

This Financial Post article How to Approach Your Parents about their Will Before It’s Too Late  outlines the factors as to why this discussion should come sooner than later.

Broken Promises

Areet Kaila is an Associate in the Wealth Preservation Group at Clarke Wilson LLPThe Wills Variation Act of B.C. (Wills Variation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c-490) is unique to British Columbia.  If you reside in B.C. or may be a beneficiary of the estate of a B.C. resident, you will find this article beneficial in helping you understand the implications of the Wills Variation act on you.  The author Areet Kaila is an Associate in the Wealth Preservation Group at Clarke Wilson LLP.

Read More

Have you considered a Living Will?

Have you considered a living will?The expression “living will” is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill and can’t communicate your wishes about treatment. It is quite common, for example, for people to write a “living will” saying that they do not want to be kept alive on artificial life supports if they have no hope of recovery. The term “advance directive” is also frequently used to refer to such a document. Some people use the phrase “proxy directive” to describe a document that combines a Power of Attorney and a “living will”.

The treatment of living wills differ from province to province.  Be sure to consult your lawyer.

A “living will” is not the same as a Power of Attorney for Personal care however; you can write your treatment wishes as part of your Power of Attorney document so that your chosen power of attorney is aware of them.

It is important to communicate to family members that you have a “living will” and they know its whereabouts. It may also be of advantage to carry a wallet card outlining its existence and location.

When drafting a “living will” we suggest discussing the conditions with your Doctor and Lawyer.  If you are spending time out of the country or in other provinces your Lawyer will also be able to advise you on the treatment of your living will in these locations. This CBC news article explains more http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/wills/

Avoiding Estate Litigation

Typewriter with estate planning worksheet

In this Huffington Post Blog two of Canada’s prominent estate litigators discuss the complexities and nuances of today’s estate planning environments. They point out that with increasingly  complex family structures, complicated finances and capacity issues even well drafted wills can end up in court...read more  

The Importance of Leaving a Will

The Importance of Leaving a WillEven carefully drawn wills can become the subject of disputes and litigation. Having a poorly drafted will, or no will at all, increases those odds exponentially. Despite this, over 50 per cent of Canadians do not have their testamentary wishes written down in the form of a will.

The reasons for this vary depending on individuals but we often come across a similar set of excuses. For instance, young Canadians often feel that they have not amassed significant enough assets to warrant an estate plan. Some people also have will drafting very low on their priority list and the refrain of being too busy and not having enough time and/or resources is all too common.

Read more: The Importance of Leaving a Will

Ontario Estates Tax Act

Recent revisions to the Estate Administration Tax Act (Ontario) entail new reporting, enforcement and penalty provisions, explains Susannah B. Roth of O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers in this article.

ERAssure®, Canada’s only provider of executor liability insurance provides FREE Inheritance Planning Guides and Executor Guides to help in the process of both estate planning and estate administration.

Biggest Mistakes Trustees Can Make in Administering an Estate

A stack of bills with a calculator on topBeing an estate executor is not as simple as it may seem. The job can be full of unexpected responsibilities and conflicting demands from beneficiaries, often with a large value of assets at stake.

Read about the five biggest mistakes that non-professional estate trustees can make.  Unsophisticated executors and trustees can face unlimited liability by taking on a role without the guidance of a lawyer, money manager, or tax professional. Read the full story at Barron’s.

Executors have always had a great deal of responsibility, but the job has arguably become more risky as information becomes more readily available.  For more information on the roles and responsibilities of the executor, download our FREE step by step Executor Guide.

Executor Insurance to Protect Against Legal Liability in Estate Administration

Negligence by an executor, even if mistakes are innocent, can render that person liable to beneficiaries and creditors of an estate.

Read Toronto-based estates and trusts lawyer, Megan Connolly's blog about executor insurance. The purpose of the insurance is to insure executors from personal liability and legal fees that may arise as a result of their negligent administration of an estate.

The Estate Lawyer As Insurance Underwriter

What happens when you, the lawyer, fail to secure title insurance on a real estate transaction when instructed to do so? A recent article in The Lawyer’s Weekly suggests that the lawyer becomes responsible for everything the policy would’ve covered even if the range of insurance protection exceeds the normal standard of practice within the “opinion on title” context.

Next, how about the estate solicitor failing to speak to the availability of executor insurance during the estate administration discussions? When the litigation commences, is it reasonable for the executor or the beneficiaries to look to the estate solicitor for the full scope of protection that would be available from an executor insurance policy (including defense costs, indemnity, and posting of bonds, etc. during litigation) as a result of the lawyer not bringing it to their attention in time to purchase it?

Read more: The Estate Lawyer As Insurance Underwriter

Family Treasure or Family Tragedy?

Passing the Cottage to the Next Generation: Originally printed in Lawyers Weekly, November 30, 2012.

The family cottage is often the source of years of happy memories: children with sand between their toes; campfires; boating and large family gatherings. Because clients and their children can be emotionally tied to a family cottage, options for transferring it to the next generation should be thoughtfully considered.

Communication is Key

This may be an opportune time for a family meeting. A frank discussion may confirm who is interested in acquiring the property, how much control the clients want to maintain over it, who can afford it, whether insurance should be purchased to offset costs, and how to arrange ongoing maintenance. You may advise that your clients’ children and spouses sign a contract excluding the cottage from any family law claims. A timely, open family discussion might be the best way to allow for proper planning and to avoid unpleasant conflict.

Read more: Family Treasure or Family Tragedy?

To a Boater it’s a Boat; To a Beneficiary it’s a Yacht

Let’s face it – people are living longer today, but all boaters meet their maker sooner or later. Have you ever considered what happens when you appoint a relative or trusted family friend to manage the administration of your estate as an estate trustee or executor? Very few people that make a will understand the significant obligations they are asking their executor to assume, and even fewer understand the personal risks that accompany acting as an executor for a friend or relative.

The role of executor is a personal engagement that carries a very high level of responsibility to the beneficiaries, creditors, and third parties to the estate of the person that has passed away. They are legally required to perform at a very high level of skill in order to protect the interests of the beneficiaries and creditors of the estate – typically to a much higher standard than most people conduct their own personal affairs.

Read more: To a Boater it’s a Boat; To a Beneficiary it’s a Yacht

Family Farm Feud - Holy Cow!

Family Farm Feud - Holy Cow!Article written by Charles Ticker, from the Sibling Fight Estate Law Blog.

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal sets out the pitfalls of litigating estate disputes. This case involved a dispute between a brother and sister over their late parents’ farm. Gary and Louanne Mountain are the son and daughter of the late John “Jack” and Helen Mountain. Jack and Helen owned and operated a Holstein dairy farm in Caledon, Ontario. The farm had been in the Mountain family since 1830. Gary worked the farm as his full-time occupation together with his late father for 24 years. He was the fifth-generation of Mountains to operate the farm.

Jack suddenly died of cancer on November 28, 2001. While he always mentioned that the farm and most of the farm assets would be transferred to Gary, he did not make specific provisions for this in his will.

Jack and Helen had identical wills. Each left all of his/her estate to the other absolutely or if either spouse died first, the estate would go to Gary and Louanne to share equally. Gary and Louanne were also named as co-executors under both wills.

Read more: Family Farm Feud - Holy Cow!

Benefits to the Estate

Estate Risk Protection Plan President, CEO, Scot Dalton and estates lawyer Ian Hull discuss the potential benefit to an estate when an insurance policy is in place to look after the liability arising out of administration


Executor Liability Product Aims to Cover Increasingly Risky Role


Article by Harmeet Singh, Online Editor: November 29, 2012

Executor Liability Product Aims to Cover Increasingly Risky RoleThe risk that comes with being the non-professional executor of a will or an estate trustee has been targeted by the creators of Waterloo, Ont.’s ERAssure, an executor liability insurance product recently opened up to the broker community.

The ageing baby boomer generation, combined with more complicated family relationships springing from divorce and remarriage, and more complex personal finances, have paved the way for this kind of coverage, says Scot Dalton, CEO of ERAssure.

Read more: Executor Liability Product Aims to Cover Increasingly Risky Role

Insurance for Executors, Estate Trustees an “Obvious Choice”


A new service that provides insurance for executors and estate trustees has caught the attention of some clients, Toronto trust and estate lawyer Ian Hull says in the Waterloo Region Record.  Read Waterloo Region Record

Hull, partner with Hull & Hull LLP, says Erassure insurance addresses common issues in estate law.

“It’s always amazed me that it wasn’t out there before,” he says in the Record report. “I’ve seen a huge volume of problems arise in an estate administration and estate litigation, most of which are entirely unforeseen by the parties involved.

“I see it as (an) obvious choice,” Hull says in the article. “If I’m going to go into something (like an estate administration), I would do it with a little insurance behind me.”

The product hasn’t been offered in the past because insurers generally prefer to underwrite something tied to a single event, such as a fire or car accident, rather than something that stretches over time such as an estate closure, the article notes.

New Insurance Product Helps Estate Executors Douse Potential Fires


Article by Chuck Howitt, Record staff:  November 10, 2012

KITCHENER — It’s a task you might be asked to perform once or twice in a lifetime, if at all.

Usually an elderly parent or close family relative is the one who will ask you to handle the job. The responsibility is usually accepted on a whim without much thought of the obligations required.

“We call them the trusted family friend or unfortunate relative,” Scot Dalton says.

Dalton is talking about the executor of the estate, the person tasked with identifying the assets in a person’s will and distributing them to the appropriate beneficiaries.

Dalton is chief executive officer of ERAssure (pronounced era-sure), a Kitchener firm he launched recently with partner Myron Neufeld to provide insurance for executors, estate trustees and estate administrators in Canada.

His use of the word “unfortunate” to describe a relative tapped to do the job is no accident.

Read more: New Insurance Product Helps Estate Executors Douse Potential Fires

Executor Compensation: The Basics

person in pink holding cashExecutor compensation is a common issue in estate litigation. The executor is the person appointed by the will to administer the estate and distribute the estate assets according to the terms of the will. Sometimes a clause in the will states that the estate must pay a certain fee to the executor for completing his or her executor’s duties. These clauses are called charging clauses. When a will does not contain a charging clause, the British Columbia Trustee Act (the “Act”) governs executor compensation.

The Act imposes a maximum on what an executor can be paid. The maximum is 5% of the gross aggregate value of the estate assets, including capital and income. Gross aggregate value means:

Read more: Executor Compensation: The Basics

Protect Your Estate: Retain an Appraiser

antique china setOne thing is for certain. At some point in a person’s life, they will either be an estate executor or be closely associated with one, in the process of carrying out the wishes put forth in someone’s will.

The other thing that is certain is that a wise executor will employ the services of an appraiser. 

Whether a person’s assets will be sold or divided, the executor making those decisions must know what their fair market value is so they can move through the process with confidence.Even if items will be gifted, no one can move forward both wisely and confidently without knowing values. These days, being informed is in fashion and guesswork is out.

Read more: Protect Your Estate: Retain an Appraiser

The Importance of Choosing the Right Executor

A man with stubble in a suit in handcuffsArticle from Your Estate Matters, a Publication of Clark Wilson’s Wealth Preservation Group.

In R. v. Singleton (Supreme Court of British Columbia), an executor (who was also a lawyer) was required to pay restitution and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for theft and fraud in relation to his misappropriation of nearly half a million dollars from an estate.

The total value of the George Estate was $1,061,648 from which certain bequests and payments were made byMarvin Singleton in accordance with Mr. George’s will. There was a shortfall of nearly $500,000. Mr. Singleton said that he invested estate funds poorly. The Crown successfully argued that Mr. Singleton committed fraud and violated his legal responsibility as an executor and trustee of the estate of a client by taking the funds entrusted to him and using them for his own purposes.

Read more: The Importance of Choosing the Right Executor

Power of Attorney – Beneficiary Animosity

If you have Power of Attorney for an aging or ill parent, you know that you have very broad control of Mom or Dad’s money, health and welfare. You are using your personal discretion on how to manage their assets, attend to their health needs, accommodation, or other comforts.

The challenges for the POA are twofold: making sure that you are meeting your obligations under the laws that govern such conduct, and meeting the expectations of siblings, who are often beneficiaries of the estate. Satisfying the obligations at law is perhaps easier than satisfying other family members or people that influence them – spouses, for example.

Read more: Power of Attorney – Beneficiary Animosity

Dementia and the Mental Health Act

Under the Mental Health Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.288 (“MHA”), is dementia included as a mental health disease?

The MHA does not define “mental health disease”, but it defines “patient” as a “person with a mental disorder”. The MHA defines “person with a mental disorder” as a person who has “a disorder of the mind that requires treatment and seriously impairs the person’s ability to react appropriately to the person’s environment, or associate with others.”

Read more: Dementia and the Mental Health Act

Ways to Resolve Estate Disputes

I.Alternate Dispute Resolution

It is evident that a testator will be inviting conflict and discord to the family if he or she does not discharge basic moral parental and spousal obligations when creating his or her will. Even if a testator thinks that he or she has a valid reason for a disinheritance or a gift that otherwise falls short of “normal” expectations, the testator must not think that he or she can necessarily get around it by giving an explanation in the will. While a court of course will want to know the testator’s reasons for such a decision, if the reason is irrational or distorts the truth, it will be given no significance. A will with an irrational or incomplete explanation of the gifting scheme can and often does lead to estate litigation.

Read more: Ways to Resolve Estate Disputes

Pillow Talk: The Executor’s Spouse and Who Really Makes the Decisions?

When an individual drafts their Will, they name a person(s) that they respect and trust will carry out their final wishes fairly and to the benefit of the beneficiaries. Although not always successful, most people try to identify someone that won’t cause obvious animosity within the beneficiary group.

The role of executor for even a simple estate is a big job; it can be challenging for a person to perform within the confines of full-time employment and balancing other obligations, particularly when they have limited experience with the tasks involved. The executor often looks to their spouse, common law partner, or someone else they love, to help carry out the tasks – sometimes, literally, for the “heavy lifting” and other times to solve the “estate business” problems associated with the administration.

Read more: Pillow Talk: The Executor’s Spouse and Who Really Makes the Decisions?

Selling Estate Property to Family Members

As an executor, one of the primary roles in administering an estate is selling any property that belonged to the deceased.

Generally, the amount that the land, home or condo is sold for is administered amongst the beneficiaries in portions pursuant to the will. However, as Lynne Butler of Estate Law Canada addresses in her blog, what happens when one of those beneficiaries wants to purchase the property? Can an executor sell directly to a family member?

She addresses the initial steps an executor must take to determine whether or not he or she is prevented from selling to this individual under the will. If permitted to do so, Butler then explains how an executor can complete the transaction by mitigating risk to to him or herself and the estate. While she mentions having the house appraised, it is also prudent for an executor to consider a personal insurance policy, in case the other beneficiaries assert a claim of negligence during the sale.

Leaving Your Entire Estate to Charity

While many often elect to leave behind their personal legacy to their loved ones in their will, it is not uncommon for people to leave large bequests to charitable organizations. In this story, one Victoria, B.C. resident left her entire estate, worth millions, to the SPCA. Charitable donations can become a contentious issue during estate administration, and may be problematic for an executor if the money does not reach the hands of the organization or is contested by other beneficiaries. Executors should be aware of this risk and may want to consider insurance to safeguard against personal liability if assertions of negligence should arise.

You Can’t Cheat Death, but Funeral Preplanning Eases the Hardship

This article by Dawn Walton of the Globe and Mail, is just another example of the immense challenge facing the executor of today.

50% of people don’t have a will but only 9% have done any meaningful form of pre-planning for their funeral.

That means articulating the testator’s wishes and finding means to fund the funeral will be left to the executor 91% of the time. For most it’s a tough enough time dealing with our own grief and the grief of our friends and family members. It’s a difficult way to begin the new role, and one that only gets tougher from here on in.

Executors Beware - It's Not An Easy Job

 “If you do mess up as an executor, it can be financially ruinous.”

                                                                 - Ian Hull, Estate Lawyer

Canada's top Estate Practitioners and Estate Litigators agree the role of the Executor is more complicated and with greater risk than in the past. Being asked to be an Executor is an honoured and cherished role, however most Executors when accepting the role are unaware, until they start to act in the administration of the estate, that they are financially liable for their mistakes. Litigation over estate-related matters is increasing, because of demographics and the fact that beneficiaries are more knowledgeable and sophisticated than ever. Executor Insurance can mitigate the risk for the Executor and help keep the estate assets intact in this challenging environment.

Learn more in this Globe and Mail article by Noreen Rasbach.





ERAssure protects will executors and trustees who fear being sued


Suzanne Sharma from the Canadian Insurance Top Broker Magazine discusses how If it is top priority was developed out of a gap in the personal insurance protection marketplace. With changing family dynamics, tremendous intergenerational transfer of wealth, and heightened standards of accountability, estate executors are more at risk for personal liability than ever before.

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The toughest job you may have never wanted


Tara Perkins from the Globe and Mail discusses the new concept of insurance for non-professional executors. She reviews the concerns and challenges individuals face when being named the executor of a friend or loved one's estate. Changes to family structure, large, complicated estates, and an increasing trend towards a more litigious society are among some of the reasons executors may require insurance.

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Executor Insurance from ERAssure.com – Marketing Mavens or What


Edward Olkovich from EstateTherapy.com reviews the ERAssure® website and the relevant information that is available to current or future executors and lawyers.

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ERAssure Press Release: New Insurance Protection Available for Executors

Serving as the executor of an estate is a challenging responsibility that many people are asked to fulfill, for which they are personally liable and have no personal insurance protection. Changes in Canadian society are increasingly placing executors at greater risk of litigation and personal liability than ever before. ERAssure® Executor Errors and Omissions Insurance protects executors and estate trustees from personal liability incurred in the process of estate administration. It is exclusively available with the counsel of a lawyer for the estate.

Read more (PDF)

New insurance protection available for executors


Investment Executor staff discuss the new ERAssure® errors and omissions insurance product to protect executors against claims for damages as a result of errors made during the administration of an estate.

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Where there's a will, there's now insurance


MoneyVille journalist James Daw reviews the ERAssure® errors and omissions insurance product as a new option for executors and trustees who fear being sued by dissatisfied heirs. The risk of personal liability and legal disputes over an inheritance is increasing; find out how ERAssure can help protect you.

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New E&O insurance can provide executors peace of mind

Ian Hull, co-founder of Hull and Hull, writes about the complex role of the executor and risk factors that can lead to personal liability and lawsuits in the administration of an estate. He discusses the recent availability of ERAssure® errors and omissions insurance and how being protected can bring executors peace of mind.

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Trustee Insurance


Blog by Cesia Green, chair of Simcoe Trusts and Estates Lawyers Association (STELA), discusses relevant events and promotes upcoming speakers of interest at their monthly lunch meetings.

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Executor's Insurance


Executors often face a demanding job, disgruntled beneficiaries, and the genuine risk of personal liability. Jordan Atin discusses why executor’s insurance could benefit the executor – and the estate.

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Passing the Cottage on to the Kids


In this CBC Ontario Today podcast, Elaine Blades, Director for Estate Services at Scotia Private Client Group describes how to navigate probate, trusts and capital gains tax. She also answers specific questions from callers about how to navigate the passing on of the cottage and other assets to family members.

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For a list of ERAssure Estate Service Providers in your area

Estate Services Directory

Are you Currently Acting
as an Executor?

Executors can be held personally liable for actions they take in estate administration. Talk to one of our Estate Risk Professionals today for your free estate risk analysis.


Downloadable Resources

Want more information on planning, preparing and administering an estate? Download our easy to use reference guides and resources to help you along the way.


  • Executor Liability Insurance - Return the completed application to our office to find out if you are eligible for executor liability insurance.


  • Fiduciary Bonds - Have you been asked to provide a bond for the estate? Download the application and follow the directions to apply for a bond.


  • Free Executor Guide - If you have been asked to be an executor or are acting as an executor this guide will help you understand your responsibilities and help track your activities.


  • Free Will Preparation Guide - A step to step guide to the questions you will need to address when preparing your will.


Learn Mary's Story

Did you know the executor of your estate has unlimited personal liability?

Find out more