Estate executors request a formal appraisal of the home in order to submit an application for probate. An objective appraisal will assist in the client's proactive estate planning.

 What is an Estate Trustee? 

Sometimes referred to as the Executor of an estate, the Estate Trustee is the person or persons and/or trust company appointed in the last will and testament of the deceased to see that their wishes as set out are fulfilled. This means taking full responsibility for administering and distributing the property of the deceased as well as being legally accountable to the beneficiaries or creditors of the estate. Also note that the age of at least one of the trustees should be less than the testator.

Why were you chosen? 

Being an estate trustee is a position of trust and honour: a family member or friend had the confidence in you that you would perform the duties of this position to the best of your abilities while also recognizing that you possess specific qualities. These include a competence in business, financial responsibility, impartiality, availability, time and willingness and not least of all sympathy.

Requirements and Role of an Estate Trustee

At least a year of your time will be required, often longer, in order to settle an estate. An executor’s duties include over fifty different tasks such as liaising with lawyers, appraisers for jewelry, antiques and artwork, real estate agents, accountants, insurance and pension providers, creditors and the Canada Revenue Agency. 

You must open an estate bank account and manage the assets as well as locate and monitor all property, including valuables and safety deposit box contents, ensure that tax matters are resolved (file tax return and request Tax Clearance Certificate), and review all financial records. Primarily however your most important duty is to ensure that the deceased’s wishes as stated in the will are carried out. 
Administering the estate means meeting with family members and beneficiaries, managing the assets including all real estate, carrying out the banking and bookkeeping and distributing the proceeds from the estate to the beneficiaries. Within this context a number of other considerations may present themselves such as: providing for support or education of a beneficiary; preserving an underage beneficiary’s share of the inheritance; providing ongoing support for a spouse or beneficiary with a special need and also considering the possibility of a beneficiary’s changing financial needs over time. 

Other duties may include: notifying a previous employer to determine survivor benefits or insurance proceeds; notifying Health and Welfare to cancel Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan payments; applying for Canada Pension Plan Death Benefits, Survivor’s Benefits or Orphan’s Benefits if applicable; canceling health insurance coverage; canceling credit cards; if necessary requesting from Canada Post the re-routing of mail; completing or canceling securities trade orders, canceling driver’s license, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, telephone, cable, internet and memberships.

Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee

Formerly called probate, the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee is a grant from the court made out to the representative named in the last will and testament as Estate Trustee. Based on the obvious necessity and before there is time for the certificate to be granted, the estate bank (usually the deceased’s) will provide drafts to cover funeral expenses, immediate family needs and court fees providing the balances are sufficient. 

The application made in consultation with your lawyer occurs only after the preparation of both an inventory of assets and a list of debts and obligations to date are completed and this application must be served on all beneficiaries. Once the necessary probate tax is paid to the court and the Certificate granted, the Estate Trustee is in a position to administer the estate.


Real Estate and the Estate Trustee

Dealing with the real estate holdings of the deceased is only one of many duties the estate trustee will face. Consultation with a lawyer, preferably the one who drew up the will will provide you with any special terms or instructions. It is recommended that the estate lawyer search the title to all real estate in which the deceased had an interest. It is inappropriate to distribute assets without receiving a written opinion from the lawyer. It is your responsibility to take all necessary steps to secure property. 

Familiarizing yourself with the deceased’s private and personal business interests include taking an inventory and custody of real estate deeds, mortgages, cash, securities, jewelry, art and other valuables. Insurance coverage on real estate, automobiles and household property is critical. If any of the deceased’s properties – home, business, cottage, farm, investment properties are vacant you must check on the adequacy of insurance coverage and if necessary increase it. Insurance review must be thorough and prompt since an estate trustee may be held responsible for losses if assets are under-insured. If mortgages and real estate investments exist, your lawyer will assist you in collecting payments and other monies due. 

When reviewing and inspecting the real estate component of the deceased’s estate your lawyer will request that you obtain formal written appraisals, usually two or three for each property. Bosley Real Estate understands this critical step and is not only highly experienced in undertaking this process but compassionate towards your particular needs and obligations at this time. Our trustee advisor will guide you through the steps, arranging appraisals from a variety of reputable and reliable registered sources and prepare the documentation for your lawyer’s review.

Once the lawyer has the necessary appraisals he/she is able to proceed towards establishing a value for the property through the process of averaging values. An appraisal of a private residence, for example, involves a comprehensive review of the property including preparation of a set of comparable listings in the neighbourhood and an analysis of recent and prior sales. 

In addition Bosley Real Estate Ltd. can assist you with checking leases, mortgages and taxes and if necessary help you to provide continuing supervision of the deceased’s real estate holdings. Obtaining an appraisal for a private residence usually takes no more than a few days and will take you one step further in determining the value of the estate. 

In some cases a property will be gifted outright to a beneficiary and it is necessary for your lawyer to transfer the property into the beneficiary’s name. Please note that a real estate transaction can not be finalized until the Certificate of Appointment of Trustee is granted. If it is decided or directed to convert the property to cash (perhaps for the purposes of disbursing funds among a number of beneficiaries) Bosley Real Estate Ltd. can assist you in listing the property for market sale when the time is right. This applies not only to a private residence but also to businesses and investment properties – a rental apartment building or a corner store. Negotiating an estate sale requires sensitivity on the part of your real estate agent or broker.

It is not uncommon for there to be more than one estate trustee as well as a number of beneficiaries all of who will have concerns (price, closing dates, chattels etc.) that will need to be addressed. Your estate advisor and agent/broker can help smooth the way to effect a flawless, timely and profitable sale wherein all parties’ concerns are satisfied.

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