Have you ever considered the amount of time and attention many people spend organizing, pre-planning, or writing down their preferences for their funeral?
It’s a very important statement for some people, but for many others, it is done simply to minimize the emotional discomfort and potential tension that final arrangements can create within the family.
But you can’t help but wonder, what will happen after my funeral is over? Is my family prepared to handle the rest of the job closing my estate?
People spend considerable money, time and effort to prepare for their funeral – an event which is about 5 days from start to finish. It’s only the first step of many required to settle an estate.
A typical estate settlement takes about two years – 730 days – yet few people put the same level of attention and effort as their funeral to helping their son or daughter with the remaining 725 days after the funeral when the real work takes place.
Failure to plan for the administration of the estate can leave long-lasting problems, confusion, expense and emotional turmoil for the entire family.
Why this gap between funeral planning and estate administration planning? Nearly every adult has been to a few funerals. We know what we like or dislike about funerals and can easily communicate our funeral preferences to our family. The two years after the funeral are a very different matter.
Relatively few people have experience acting as an estate executor, and most of us don’t have enough meaningful knowledge to allow us to prepare a detailed settlement plan for our own executor.
Ultimately, most people leave only their will behind as the entire instruction for their executor to use as guidance, because they don’t know what else to do. In actuality, there are several steps you can take and resources you can leave your executor to make the job easier.
The executor – usually a daughter or son – is typically appointed in the will because of their relationship with the parent and their family; very few people are appointed because they have the special skills required for running the business affairs of an estate.
This trusted and well-meaning son or daughter, with perhaps no real skills for the job, is now responsible for the formal delivery of an estate administration without any actual instructions for or knowledge of where to start and how to identify the tasks required.
They are left to learn as they go.
Executors sometimes decide that the task exceeds their ability to perform it. They may rely on an estate lawyer to assist with the administration from start to finish. This can be costly and may result in executor compensation problems; even when the executor claims no compensation, a large legal fee can raise the eyebrows of beneficiaries who may object to a big bill from an estate lawyer.
Some executors elect to forego legal advice and forge ahead, crossing their fingers that they don’t overlook something or make a mistake while they try to complete what is inevitably a more time consuming and challenging job than they expected. This is how an executor can get into trouble.
Perhaps there is a practical way that parents can provide resources for their children acting as executors that can bridge the gap between over-reliance on a lawyer and foregoing legal advice altogether.
Estate Risk Protection Plan Inc. is an Ontario based company that pioneered executor liability insurance – ERAssure® – for non-professionals in Canada. It has developed a new product that allows parents to arrange estate administration assistance for their family members that will act as their executors.
- It works much the same as arranging a pre-planned funeral which is funded normally by a life insurance policy.
- The ERAssure® Estate Risk Protection Plan provides a suite of services triggered at the death of the policyholder to help their family – beneficiaries and executors.
- The Estate Risk Protection Plan provides a number of important benefits for many typical Canadian estates where a family member or friend is named as executor.
The benefits are grouped into three categories: Administration Tools, Document Services, and Risk Mitigation products.
Administration Tools include detailed and comprehensive guides to estate administration. These tools assist an executor in identifying what needs to be done, and provides a means to record completion of tasks required, for the scrutiny of beneficiaries during and at the conclusion of the estate.
Document Services includes a service that prepares notifications to the various companies and institutions that require formal notice of the opening of an estate and appointment of an executor. This is performed through a personal interview process with the executor.
At the conclusion of the interview, the documents are prepared, ready for posting and only require the signature of the executor for completion.
Also provided is an essential service for the executor – notifying creditors of your passing. This is a critical task that must be performed to afford protection for your son or daughter executor from personal liability for your debts.
Risk Mitigation products include Executor Liability Insurance to protect your executor from claims arising out of negligent performance of their duties. As executor, your daughter or son becomes the “personal representative” of your estate – the person that may be sued by dissatisfied creditors, beneficiaries or other parties having business with your estate.
Another valuable risk mitigation product is Identity Theft Coverage. Internet criminals that surf online obituaries can often extract enough information about a recently deceased individual to attempt to clone the identity and saddle the estate – including the executor as the personal representative of the estate – with expense and aggravation that can frustrate and delay the administration of the estate. This protection will reimburse many of the expenses incurred by the executor to restore the identity of a deceased parent for the estate.
This suite of benefits is available to any individual, regardless of their age or health status.
The ERAssure® Estate Risk Protection Plan allows a parent to say to their daughters and sons who settle their estate, “Thank you for looking after my last wishes. Here is something to make the job simpler and faster.”