Stay on Top of Your Finances During a Difficult Time

It can be hard to see things clearly when you’re going through a personal loss or adversity. Having a financial plan can give you a fresh perspective.

Settling an Estate

Few people who agree to be an estate executor are aware of the extent of the duties involved. A financial planner can help.

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Key Executor Duties

If you’re responsible for settling an estate, you may not know where to start. While not a complete list, here is an overview of some of the key things you’ll need to take care of.

Funeral Arrangements

Find out whether funeral arrangements have been prepaid and if specific wishes have been documented.

Death Certificate

Get a few copies from the funeral home. You’ll need them when dealing with financial institutions, the government and insurance companies.

The Will

Find and distribute the Will, and obtain probate if necessary. You’ll then need to carry out the instructions outlined in the Will.

Bank Accounts

Notify the bank and identify yourself as the executor. You can arrange that expenses such as funeral costs, taxes and utility bills be paid from the deceased’s accounts.

Safe Deposit Boxes

You will need the key to any safe deposit box so you can list the contents and access any important documents it may contain.

Insurance and Employment Benefits

Contact the life insurance company to initiate payment, and the employer (or former employer) to review any survivor health or pension benefits.


Ask the bank or other financial institution for a list of outstanding liabilities. You will need to pay out any debts or taxes owed from the deceased’s accounts.


Make an inventory of the estate’s assets. You can distribute assets only after you’re sure there are enough funds to pay all debts and taxes.

Final Tax Return

You will need to file the final tax return and pay any taxes owing. Let the beneficiaries know what amount they will need to pay tax on.

Too Much to Take On?

If you’ve been appointed executor/liquidator and don’t want the responsibility, here are three options:

1. Delegate

A trust company can help you manage some or all of the tasks, while you make the final decisions.

2. Say No

You can decline to act as long as you do so before performing any duties.

3. Resign

In Quebec, you can resign at any time by notifying the beneficiaries. There may be penalties for doing so without a reason.

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* Estate Trustee with a Will in Ontario; Liquidator in Quebec