Who should you name as your executor?

Road signs

I recently wrote about choosing a local executor. Today, I’d like to talk more generally about who to choose as an executor.

Many people default to a spouse, with an adult child or sibling as an alternate. If you don’t have a spouse, adult child, or sibling, and your parents are no longer living or unsuitable for any reason, or you simply want an alternate to one of those options, who do you have left?

There is no legal requirement that your executor be related to you, so if you have a friend who you trust, that is always an option. Beyond that, you can ask a professional advisor, though some are prohibited from acting and some simply do not feel comfortable doing so.

Another option is a trust company. Most banks have trust arms that will act as executor for a fee. The benefit to using a trust company is that they won’t die, and so will be around in the event of a long-term trust within your will.

When choosing your executor, you should think about what work will need to be done. Do you have young children, and a potentially long-term trust? Do you have complex assets, or assets outside of Ontario? Do you have a complicated distribution within your will? If you are choosing a friend, have you discussed it with them to ensure they are comfortable acting?

Choosing an executor is not an easy decision, but choosing carefully is one of the most important things to do for your estate.