Choose the Right Executors to Protect Your Money

Here’s why people never make wills and how you fix it.

Many people do not know who to name as their executor. They cannot envision who would handle their affairs. I ask clients in my law office why they didn’t make a will sooner. Many say, “I could not find the right executor.”

Without any trustworthy family members, many people don’t make a will. They don’t know how to choose the right executor. They are not sure what their executor must do and how to pay them.

Well, if you are in that boat, here’s good news. I can help you with my insider’s tips.

I am launching a series of blog post at MrWills.com – The Home of Happy Executors. I cover steps for you to get the right executor. At the end of the series, you can get this free guide.

Choosing Executors Wisely by Edward Olkovich 2016 (c) Mr Wills Inc. - Guide Cover

How to Choose the Right Executors

Here are the topics I cover in the series to Choose Executors Wisely:

1. Why Choosing Executors is Important

2. What Executors Do

3. The Checklist for Executor Choices

4. How to Find Your Right Executor

5. Tips to Choose Your Executor

What is the Big Deal about Executors?

I’ve seen firsthand how bad executors create disasters. It happens even in the best families. I’ve written about this since I wrote my first Complete Idiot’s Guide® book in 1997.

You name someone as your executor in your will. Executors control when your family receives their inheritance. What happens if you choose the wrong executor?

Executors who are dishonest, incompetent or lazy can ruin your family’s inheritance. My advice is: Don’t put a fox into the hen house.

Court battles with bad executors can add years of waste and delay.

The wrong executor steals your money and ruins families. Once they are in charge, it’s hard to get rid of a bad one. I’ll tell you about one called Tony.

Courts Reluctantly Remove Executors

Tony was his Uncle George’s executor. Tony arranged his uncle’s funeral with an expensive reception. He bought a plot and an expensive headstone. This was despite everyone’s protests. Uncle George’s sister, Alice, said, “My brother wanted to be cremated in a simple service”.

“Too bad,” Tony said to Alice. “He never told me that. I am the executor and I make all the decisions. I don’t like cremation and I don’t have to check anything with you.”

Tony held George’s wake at his golf club. Tony’s golf buddies toasted George at the estate’s expense. The tab for the food and bar was over $6,000. Alice and other relatives did not bother to attend.

Can Judges Remove Executors of a Will?

Only a judge can get rid of a bad executor. Someone must go to court. Can your family afford lawyers? Can they prove that Tony was harming the estate by:

  • committing fraud
  • stealing estate money
  • wasting estate dollars
  • mistreating beneficiaries (whom Tony disliked)
  • being incompetent
  • putting George’s money in danger
  • failing to distribute assets

Such allegations are difficult to prove. A judge may not intervene unless there is serious misconduct.
Tony did not get removed as executor. He also did not tell anyone what he did next.

He took $300,000 from his George’s estate and invested in his company’s new invention – the perfect putter.

Too bad Tony’s company went broke. Tony then told his family (after paying his legal fees) there was nothing left. He never distributed George’s estate.

Tony’s behavior is regrettably common. Some executors abuse their positions.

How can you avoid these problems?

Sometimes it is as simple as naming a new executor.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to have your money wasted.

Legal expenses can eat up your estate. Your hard-earned money gets squandered.

Have You Got Wrong Estate Executor?

Should you always name family as your executor? You may want to re-consider such decisions if, for example, your children:

  • don’t get along
  • are receiving social assistance
  • are stepchildren from a subsequent relationship
  • have been married several times
  • struggle with financial difficulties
  • cannot be trusted
  • live out of the country

The right executor avoids conflicts, comforts your family and controls costs. Make sure you have the right executors. Don’t force loved ones into a court battle to remove bad executors.

What Happens if You Chose the Wrong Executor?

What can happen after you are gone?

Your family can challenge your decision in court. They can show a court reasons why your chosen executor should be disqualified. The trick with someone like Tony may be to try and stop him.

This legal action can keep your estate frozen – bills won’t be paid and investment decisions will be deferred – until your family can agree on appointing a new and neutral executor (i.e. a lawyer, accountant or trust company).

Easy Steps to Choose Executors Wisely

I have spoken to public and professional audiences across Canada. Choosing executors is always confusing. Advice is not always independent or free.

People want to know if they can name their spouse as executor. Is that a conflict of interest? You will get answers to this question and much more in Choosing Executors Wisely.

About Edward Olkovich

Ed Olkovich is a nationally recognized estate expert. He is a Certified Specialist in Ontario estates and trusts law. His law firm’s website is MrWills.com — The Home of Happy Executors. Visit Ed’s blog, MrWills.com, for more free valuable estate information. (c) 2016

How to Choose the Right Executors for Your Estate: Key #4

Imagine you have a daughter, Ann, an accountant, who lives far away on the West Coast. You have another child, Bob, still living at home with you.

Who should be the executor to guard your estate?

Should it be Ann, the accountant, or Bob, who may end up helping you in your old age?

I will help you answer this in a second. But first, can you answer these questions about executors:

• When should you use a corporate or professional executor?

• What is the most important quality to look for in an executor?

• How do you properly prepare your executor?

 Do Your Homework

When you are no longer around, who pays your bills, controls your estate, and ensures that your loved ones get what they need?

This job belongs to your estate’s legal representative, or executor.

Where Should You Look for Them?

You must choose wisely among family, friends, or professionals; otherwise, sadly, someone can end up paying for it.

Here are three key guidelines to consider:

1. Family comes first. Always consider family members first. They are probably your beneficiaries. This means they have an interest in winding up your estate quickly and economically.

2. Consider professionals or a trust company if you:

  • Have assets that require special skills
  • Need someone to operate a business until it is sold
  • Have an estate that may be contested or involved in lawsuits

3. Choose trustworthy executors. Honesty and reliability are the chief criteria in choosing executors. Click to tweet this.

It will be difficult for you to find experienced executors because, after all, most executors learn on the job.

You may not have a clue how to go about choosing the right executor.

People sometimes think this decision is easy, but second marriages and blended families, for example, can cause special challenges.

You can learn more in my special report, Choosing Executors: Your Formula for Success, available instantly.

Attention if you are an executor or will be one: learn about how social changes and legal challenges affect you.

Find out more about the world’s first self-defence guide for executors, Executor Kung Fu: Master Any Estate in Three Easy Steps.

This is my series on Estate Planning: 7 Keys to Success. The next key warns you about the dangers of ignoring your legal obligations.

See my related blog posts and articles:

Choosing Your Executor

Why Executors Need Lawyers

You Will Be Infected with Executor’s Disease™

About Ed

Edward Olkovich (BA, LLB, TEP, C.S.) is a nationally recognized author and estate expert. He is a Toronto estate lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts. Edward has practiced law since 1978 and is the author of seven books. Visit his website, mrwills.com, for more free valuable information.

© Edward Olkovich 2012