In Ontario, an executor has a duty to pay all debts of the deceased. This duty applies regardless of whether the executor is aware of the debt, unless there is not enough money in the estate to cover the debt.If the executor distributes estate assets to the beneficiaries without checking into whether there are debts, then the executor can be held personally liable for any debts.
If you are acting as an executor and you are not sufficiently aware of the deceased’s finances, you can get around the liability for paying debts by advertising for creditors. Traditionally, this would have been done by putting an ad in the local paper where the deceased lived and running it for three weeks in a row; if no creditors came forward, then the executor no longer has liability. (The creditor can still go after the beneficiaries directly, but can’t go after the executor.)
These days, however, with newspaper circulation down, it’s hard to justify running a paper ad. Enter noticeconnect.com, which allows you to publish a notice to creditors online. It is indexed and therefore searchable by the deceased’s name (if a creditor is looking), and also published on social media sites. This gives a potentially broader reach, which ensures that the executor is fully protected in the event of a debt that shows up after the estate has been distributed.
A notice to creditors is always a good idea if you are at all unfamiliar with the deceased’s financial affairs. With the rest of the world moving online, it’s nice to see an option for a notice to creditors on the internet as well.