It is not uncommon for us to hear from our clients that they haven’t prepared a Will because they don’t have a person they could ask to be their Executor.
There are lots of reasons for this. Some people have grown children who they would ask but those children live in another province or even country and it would not be feasible for them to come to Nova Scotia for an extended period of time to do the work it takes to wind up an estate. Some people do not have children and realize that asking their siblings or friends, who are likely close in age to them, doesn’t make much sense. Ideally your Executor will be younger than you because it is more likely that they will survive you. Finally some people have children who simply would not be up for the task. Perhaps their children do not manage money well, or perhaps there are issues with substance abuse or health that would affect their ability to do the work to wind up the estate. Perhaps there is contention in the family, and the parents are worried that by appointing one child instead of another they risk damaging their children’s relationship with each other. These are all valid concerns, but the reality is that having a Will at the time of your death could save your estate thousands of dollars and years in litigation.
Here at Kennedy Schofield Lawyers we can help. We are able to be your Executor if you do not have another person to choose. Tracey Kennedy, a Partner with Kennedy Schofield Lawyers has almost 20 years’ experience assisting clients with estate planning and probate and has acted as Executor for her clients many times. Typically your Executor would hire a lawyer to assist them with filing the required court documents (called a Proctor) but Tracey has the legal knowledge to do the work to wind up your estate as well as meet the court requirements. Her work as Proctor would be billed at her hourly rate, just as your Estate would pay any other Proctor.
Your Executor is entitled to between 1% and 5% of your estate as a commission for their work. The Registrar of Probate will decide the commission based on her review of the work that your Executor was required to do to wind up your estate and based on the value of your estate. If you choose a friend to be your Executor or Kennedy Schofield Lawyers the commission would be the same, you pay no extra commission for our expertise. There are financial institutions that offer this service as well, but they may ask you to sign a fee agreement where you agree to pay them a flat fee of up to $30,000 in addition to the commission they would receive from the court. We are able to act as your Executor, in most cases, without requiring you to sign a compensation fee agreement, so we would receive the same commission as any layperson that you would appoint.
The most important thing we want you to take from this article is how important it is to have a valid Will in place. It can save your family and your estate so much money and grief. But if one of the reasons you are putting off preparing your Will is because you can’t decide who will be your Executor, please give Tracey a call. Kennedy Schofield Lawyers can help.