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Wills & Estates Law Archives

What is an estate trustee and what are his or her obligations?

In previous posts, we've discussed why it is important to have a will, and some of the issues that might arise if you die without one. We also looked at some of the things that need to be considered when contemplating your will, or testament. You can review those considerations here. One of those considerations asked you to consider who you wanted to administer your estate. The administrator, or "Estate Trustee" considerations are further elaborated in this post.

Things to consider

Now that you have decided you should have a Will prepared and you should speak to a lawyer about your Estate, here are some of the things you might want to consider, discuss or address with your lawyer:
I. Marital status. Have you been married previously? Do you currently have any matrimonial contracts or separation agreements that you are a party to?
II. Do you have children? Are they over the age of majority? Do you have dependants?
III. Your place of residence and the location of your assets;
IV. Are there people other than your immediate family that you want to consider in your will?
V. Who do you want to do the administration of your Estate? Who do you want to be the alternate?
VI. Assetsa. Do you own your property? Is it owned jointly or in your name alone?b. Do you have rental properties?c. Do you have RRSPs, Pensions or Life Insurance? Do they have beneficiaries assigned to them?d. Do you have stocks and bonds?e. Do you own a business or are you self employed?f. Do you have bank accounts? Are they held in your name alone or jointly?g. Do you own other assets?
VII. Do you have any liabilities that would have to be considered by your Estate?
VIII. Does anyone owe you money that you want to ensure your estate is able to collect?
IX. Do you want to gift specific items to specific people (specific bequests)?
X. Do you want to leave money to charities?
XI. Do you want to create a trust for your spouse or your children?
XII. Do you have specific funeral/burial wishes?
XIII. Who do you want to take care of your children should something happen to you and your spouse?

Why Wills are Important

When I am at parties or social gatherings I often start talking about the importance of Wills and Estate Planning (yes I am that person, although to be fair it usually comes up when other people ask me questions upon learning what I do for a living). Many people tell me when the subject comes up that they do not need a Will as they do not have any assets. Nothing can be farther from the truth on the other side of things when a person is deceased and they have not drafted a Will. It makes the administration of the Estate that much harder.