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Estate Administration

Administering an estate without experience or guidance, and carrying out your duties as an executor can be a herculean task. The role of the estate trustee or executor can actually be summed up in four words: funeral, taxation, debt, and beneficiaries. These four responsibilities are the foundation of your role. Of course, as with all things, it’s never quite that simple.

What to Expect When Administering an Estate

As the trustee or executor, you will need to locate and review the Will, determine if there are any issues with the Will and/or if it needs to be probated, make any and all funerary arrangements, determine any immediate requirements for surviving family (such as short term cash or other assistance), obtain or apply for a death certificate, and determine if the Will should be validated by the courts.

You will be responsible for contacting beneficiaries. You will likely need to establish an estate account for the disbursement of estate funds. You will need to establish a timeline for time limitations on claims against the estate. You will need to take a complete inventory of the estate and appraise all cash and non-cash assets. You will need to determine if there are any foreign assets in the estate, and determine how those should be handled. You will need to use your appraisal to determine the appropriate estate administration tax. You will need to determine those elements of the estate that are most pressing and need the most immediate action, and then take the appropriate course of action (usually the most immediate concerns involve the securing of assets, business interests, investments, real estate, etc.). You will need to distribute the remaining funds, pay any outstanding fees, and finally, close the estate account. And you will need to do all of this while keeping accurate records of the process.

The courts, not to mention the beneficiaries, take proper administration of the will very seriously. It’s not uncommon for executors to try to voluntarily remove themselves when they find themselves unable to deal with the duties at hand. It’s also possible for an administrator to be involuntarily removed by the courts if they are deemed to be causing harm to the estate either through improper or prejudicial action, or even through a lack of action. The removal of an executor isn’t a simple thing, and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, but it should also underscore the importance of the role of the executor in the process.

Seek Guidance from a Knowledgeable Estate Lawyer

You don’t have to do it alone. Your experienced Legal Sherpa® from Yeti Law can be counted on to guide you through this process and relieve some of the burden that this entails. You will undoubtedly have questions, and your Legal Sherpa® will have answers.

Your Legal Sherpa® can assist with questions or concerns regarding:

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Estate Planning & Forward Planning

Death is sometimes described as life’s last great journey, and though it’s rarely a journey we look forward to taking, it is one we should all be prepared to take. When it comes to legal preparations, our biggest concern should lie in making those preparations early, in consideration of those we leave behind to ensure we protect our loved ones as best we can.

Illness, incapacity, and death are uncomfortable topics, but your Legal Sherpa® is there for you, to walk with you and lead you to the completion of a comprehensive solution for your estate plan. At some point in everyone’s life, certain difficult questions must be answered. With some help and support from Yeti Law, you will find a proper resolution to those questions and rest easy knowing they are no longer a concern. Questions such as:

  • Who will act as the Power of Attorney for your property?
  • Who will act as the Power of Attorney for your personal care?
  • Who will speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself?
  • Who will care for your children? Your loved ones? Your pets?
  • Who will care for those dependents with special care needs?

A Holistic Approach to Estate Planning in Toronto

We approach things differently at Yeti Law. We view estate planning as an ongoing process rather than a single task to be completed. For this reason, at Yeti Law, we refer to estate planning as Forward Planning, which more aptly describes the process.

The forward planning process is one that should be personal. Our Legal Sherpas® begin with you and your family and your social network. We begin with what we call a People Plan, which includes all of the people you have named in your Will(s) and Power of Attorney. The People Plan builds on your Family Tree as well as your Family of Choice. To better understand your needs, your goals, and your situation, we have found it to be tremendously helpful to build a web that defines the people and relationships in your life. With a clear picture of relationships mapped out, we can build an approach that satisfies your financial, practical, and emotional goals, and we can help you to implement those goals into a sound estate plan.

Protection and Peace of Mind

Forward Planning generally encompasses important tools such as Wills, advanced care directives (such as Living Wills), and trusts. While it’s true that simple guides or kits can be found that offer to resolve your concerns regarding the future of your estate, it should be stressed that this is a complex area of law that carries very real consequences if not handled with the utmost care by an experienced lawyer with a background in estates.

An improperly prepared Will can bring with it a host of unforeseen dangers. Errors, oversights, or even imprecise language may cost time and money as your intended beneficiaries resolve to clarify the distribution of assets. Even worse, errors can lead to disputes, and disputes can tie those very same assets up in litigation for months or even years. The months or years spent resolving disputes represents time that the disputed assets will be frozen and unavailable to the intended beneficiaries. Perhaps most troubling, depending on the resolution of the dispute, your beneficiaries — your loved ones — may ultimately not be the ones to inherit your assets. Having a guide who can help you avoid these dangers can be invaluable.

Is it Time to Renew your Estate Plan?

Having a Will and a Living Will can provide you with a sense of security. It can feel good knowing there is a plan in place for the worst possible scenarios, but for most people a Will shouldn’t be a single document written once and then set aside until needed. Wills should be updated to reflect the kinds of life changes we all experience. Significant life changes are often an excellent time to revisit your estate planning to ensure it remains legal and relevant, and that your loved ones remain protected and cared for. It is advisable to speak with a Legal Sherpa® at Yeti Law after major life changes such as:

  • marriage
  • divorce
  • significant changes to your financial situation
  • the birth of children
  • death in the family

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