I spent the day today talking to lawyers, accountants, insurance agents and banks. Being an executor turned out to be way more work that I had originally anticipated. Everyone wants a death certificate and a copy of the will. Make sure you get a pile of those two documents.
My mother’s will was fairly simple in that it said “Sell everything and divide it between the four children” Let’s start with “Sell Everything” Easy to say, but first you have to determine what everything is. Then you have to catalog it and get estimates on worth. Some things can be sold on Kijiji, but each thing that needs to be sold means and investment of time. In the case of a house, it means talking to real estate agents, getting comparables, selecting an agent and arriving at a price.
After selecting an agent, there is the processes of a listing, staging, showings, offers, counter offers and eventually a sale with all of it’s conditions. Some of the conditions can be quite bizarre…
Then it’s off to the accountants to talk about taxes. There is no inheritance tax in Ontario but there is a service tax that looks an awful lot like an inheritance tax. Then there’s tax on RIF’s and various other T4’s, T5’s and other things starting with “T” that have to be collected and submitted at tax time. Accountants decide on what has to be held back for taxes and instruct lawyers on what monies to set aside. Lawyers set the money asside, but the executor is responsible to make sure everything gets done.
Don’t forget to ask your accountant for an “Estate Clearance Certificate”. It is a promise from the tax office that they are happy with your accounting and that they will not come after you in the future.
Then it’s off to the bank. They have to be instructed to remove money from interest bearing vehicles and transfer funds to the law firm. You don’t want to hold money in interest bearing vehicles or you will end up doing tax returns for the rest of your natural life (and then your kids will have to do them).
When all is said and done, you give all the money to the lawyers and they make sure everyone is paid, that you have no legal liability, that money is set aside for taxes and beneficiaries gets their inheritance.
In my case the process took five months of lost weekends but the deed is done. Until tax time next year… (Insert the music from Jaw’s)