Given that more than 50% of Canadians don’t even have a will, chances are that most of us haven’t even thought about how to administer a loved one’s estate after they’re gone. Debbie Stanley is a Senior Estate Administrator and Founder of ETP Canada, a firm that specializes in estate administration. She says, “We spend a lot of time thinking about pre-planning funerals and estates but when it comes to the administration of the estate after death, there is this giant curtain that no one sees behind.”
Hiring a professional executor is becoming a preferred option over designating a family member, friend or hiring a trust company. Stanley says, “Most people who call us are surprised and the first words out of the mouth is, I didn’t even know this existed.” It’s not surprising given that historically, the average Canadian didn’t have a professional executor as an option.
ETP Canada will educate designated executors about the complexities of estate administration, power of attorney, and executorship. They service executors across Ontario as their “assistants” by ensuring they understand the estate administration process and hire the right professionals to help them along the way.
The designated executor is often lost because they have no training, and they are grieving the loss of a loved one. Stanley says, “We come on board like project managers to help them through the entire process, so they don’t feel alone. With our help, the executor will learn more about the role and how to keep the administration of the estate on track.”
Professional Executor Services
ETP Canada provides professional executor services for anyone who is alive and well and updating their will and thinks they would like to hire a professional executor. Perhaps the kids live out of the country, maybe there are no children or family members are estranged, adding a layer of additional complexity. Stanley says, “Maybe they simply want a neutral third-party to administer their estate. Then we can step in and be their professional executor.”
The professional executor provides an option. Stanley adds, “The goal is to help clients leave a legacy for their beneficiaries that isn’t diminished by the complications and challenges of the estate administration process.
Why Hire a Professional Executor?
If you’re having a problem with your car for example, you hire a mechanic. “It’s very similar,” says Debbie Stanley. “We are all trained in what we do. We happen to live and breathe estate administration, so we are experts in what we do. Stanley adds, “It’s a heavy burden to put on friends and family who have their own careers and their own lives. It’s a full-time position that has rules and regulations that the executor is not typically trained for.” You know that a professional is qualified, and they have the credentials to do the job well.
Stanley hears from clients all the time who tell her that a huge burden was lifted from their shoulders. “I commonly hear, I was able to sleep last night because the wind up of their loved one’s estate will be handled in a professional manner.” A professional can assume the wind up without the burden of grief. It’s very difficult to complete government paperwork, cancel the cable contract or utility account when you’re grieving.
Stanley says, “We are trying to save the family from the ongoing, possibly years-long headache of administering an estate when the family members are trying to move on with their lives.” A professional executor will ensure that the deceased can leave a legacy for their family that is not shrouded in paperwork and frustration.
The first step
Debbie Stanely starts with an initial phone call to get to know the client better. She will ask about their assets and their situation and unlike trust companies, there is no minimum dollar figure. She needs to know for example, if you have property out of the country. She needs to ensure she has jurisdiction over your assets. Stanley says, “The client then goes to their lawyer to update their will to reflect the professional Executor they would like to have administer their estate. Because they are not a trust company, Debbie Stanley would be named as executor and a backup person from ETP Canada if something were to happen. We have a team that can step in.”
Because many family members are beneficiaries for the first time, they don’t know what is expected of them or the executor. Stanley says, “They appreciate that we walk through all the steps and explain the process. We let them know about wait times and when they might have a partial cheque.” Beneficiaries aren’t left in the dark.
Easing family friction
Siblings may be upset that one was chosen to be executor over the others. “I often joke at seminars and say, you don’t want the job of executor. If you weren’t chosen, you’re probably the lucky one.” Sometimes it causes friction because other family members don’t understand the executor’s role, which is to be accountable to the beneficiaries.
Because of blended families and mobility, the job of executor is becoming more complex. Stanley says, “When beneficiaries have moved to a different country, or even a different province, that adds elements of estate complications.”
Saving money and time
A professional executor has the expertise and experience to wind down a deceased person’s life. The executor is responsible for selling the house, the car, investments and dealing with social media accounts, domain names, and cryptocurrency. They will empty the house and dispose of contents. Stanley says, “We try to sell as much of the contents as possible to give the proceeds to the beneficiaries. We will host auctions, garage sales, post items online, or go to different dealers.” The executor is also responsible for any assets and money that comes through the estate and for filing income tax returns.
Then there is the dreaded probate process. Stanley says, “We do the probate process ourselves which saves the estate money because we don’t need to hire a lawyer, unless there are legal issues. We prepare the court applications and get the certificate ourselves which is a lot quicker.” A non-professional executor might take up to three years to wrap up an estate, where a professional can usually do it within 18 months.
In Ontario, an executor is entitled to compensation whether they are a professional or not. A non-professional can charge up to 5% of the estate. Debbie Stanley points out, “When you hire a professional executor, you start at a lower rate. You’re receiving professional help at a lower rate. It saves the estate money, and the process is being followed correctly. It’s a win-win.
More importantly, a professional executor allows those who just lost a loved one to grieve. Debbie Stanely says, “Every single executor that we work with asks, when can I grieve?
If you are an executor or considering appointing an executor and feel that you would rather leave estate administration to the professionals, please contact the team at ETP Canada at (866) 309-038. Email: [email protected] or visit https://executorready.ca.