An Executor’s Checklist

This is a starting point for executors on what needs to be done when a person dies. Some tasks may be handled by other family members, and there may be more tasks depending on the complexity of the estate and the terms of the Will.

Initial Notifications and Tasks

  • Notify family and friends, employer
  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Publish obituary if desired
  • Obtain death certificate (Vital Statistics BC)
  • Notify government agencies and other institutions as needed (Service BC, MSP, Service Canada, ICBC, utility companies, pension administrator, Passport Canada)
  • Ensure home, vehicle etc. are locked and secure, and properly insured
  • Safeguard other assets, such as jewellery
  • Cancel credit cards
  • Consult a lawyer for specific legal advice about the Will, probate and your duties as executor (see more on “Legal, Financial and Taxes” below)
  • Make interim arrangements for any business
  • Redirect mail if needed
  • Check for mortgages, strata payments, agreements for sale, etc., and make sure required payments are up to date
  • Apply for CPP death benefit
  • Keep a list of executor expenses (with receipts), time spent and decisions made

Gathering information

  • Go through paper & computer files as needed, may need to look at mobile devices also, to find last Will and create inventory
  • Check & do inventory of safe deposit box
  • Locate last Will (original signed Will, but watch out for later document that could be a Will)
  • Create inventory of assets and liabilities (home, recreational property, bank accounts, RRSP/RIF/TFSA/RESPs, investment accounts, furnishing and personal effects, vehicles, private company shares etc.), with values as at date of death
  • Obtain any necessary valuations/appraisals
  • For RRSP, RRIF, LIF, TFSA, life insurance etc, confirm designated beneficiary, if any
  • Watch for digital assets of value (Bitcoin, websites that generate revenue, etc)
  • Locate and deal with email accounts, social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc.), iTunes, reward programs – each has its own policies
  • Talk to a real estate agent and list property for sale if property is to be sold (probate will be needed before the sale can close)

Legal, Financial and Taxes

  • Retain an accountant to prepare tax returns, keeping important deadlines in mind
  • Obtain legal advice about probate, and apply for probate if needed; notices of application need to be sent 21 days before filing
  • If insolvency is not an issue, pay debts

Obtain legal advice and take recommended steps on

  • Advertising for creditors
  • Collecting and transmitting assets to the executor
  • Selling assets that are to be sold
  • Dealing with any claims against the estate
  • Distributing personal effects
  • Selling a business and/or dealing with corporate shares
  • Preparing estate accounts
  • Obtaining releases from beneficiaries
  • Doing interim and final distributions to beneficiaries