One thing we need to clear up right away, is that many of the provinces and territories have legislation that changes the term we use from Executor to Personal Representative. So for the purposes of this article and this site, Personal Representative = Executor.
The job of a Personal Representative is not an easy one. Depending on the assets and complexity of your estate, it can take your Personal Representative(s) anywhere from one (1) year to decades to complete the administration of your estate.
A Personal Representative has many jobs, among them they must:
Deal with your remains and make funeral arrangements;
Collect, secure and insure all of the assets of your estate;
Employ the assistance of professionals as/if needed, such as lawyers, accountants and/or trustees in bankruptcy;
Make income tax elections;
Liquidate your estate – including selling any real estate, shares, etc.;
Apply for a Grant of Probate/Letters Probate (if necessary);
File income taxes and your final tax return;
Manage any trusts established for your beneficiaries, including investing funds and maintaining a proper accounting;
Regularly reporting to your beneficiaries regarding your estate;
Representing your estate in any court proceedings; and
Dealing with beneficiaries and other parties who contest your Will or disagree with any distribution or handling of your estate.
Please note this is not an exhaustive list.
As can be noted, there are several onerous jobs that a Personal Representative must undertake and carry out. Never, ever consider appointing your adult children who do not get along to act together as your Personal Representatives in a last stitch effort to unite them. Doing so will result in catastrophe and a loss of substantial time and resources: both estate assets and perhaps your childrens' own personal assets.
Finally, and most importantly, never EVER foist the job of Personal Representative on anyone. ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask for their permission BEFORE you appoint them to be your Personal Representative.
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