Understanding the Role of an Executor

Let’s explore a common scenario: Your friend or loved one approaches you with an important proposition, one they’ve spent much time considering. “Will you be the executor of my estate?” they ask.

It’s an honour to be considered as someone’s executor. Consider it a testament to your reliability, trustworthiness, organizational skills and general put-togetherness. They are, essentially, entrusting you to administer their estate and oversee the fulfillment of their wishes once they pass away.

But being an executor of someone’s estate is also hard work. It is time-consuming and complex. It requires you to be fastidious and proactive. And it often asks you to assume a certain level of risk – you must be comfortable with the possibility of assuming liability in cases of discrepancy or loss.

If you’re unfamiliar with the role of an executor, you’re not alone and the decision to accept the role can be stressful.  Many people who are approached to be executors dive into the deep end without any formal training or instruction. Luckily, you can begin the process of self-education here. In this post, we explore the role of an executor, and detail how NEATSPACES’ estate cleanout services can help you out in the process. The deceased’s home is often the largest asset in the estate and may be full of generational contents that need to be dealt with before the home is listed for sale.

For further information, you can consult The Executor’s Handbook, a well-written, step-by-step guide on the process (written in the States but largely applicable here). Alternatively, read through this Executor Guide from CIBC, or visit your local bank for guidance and information.

The Role of an Executor

In the most general sense, the role of an executor is to administer a deceased’s estate. This includes overseeing the deceased’s assets, paying their debts, dividing the remainder among beneficiaries, and following their last will and testament.

You may also need to sell their property and value their possessions. Evaluating the contents of someone’s house and preparing it for sale is a massive undertaking, especially as you attempt to juggle several other immediate duties. As we’ll discuss in the following section, NEATSPACES proves itself an indispensable resource in this process.

In some cases, you may be asked to arrange the funeral and ensure the deceased’s immediate family is cared for (especially if the person leaves behind dependents). You will also undertake a long list of duties, including but certainly not limited to: 

  • managing and oversight of registered and non-registered financial assets
  • managing and protecting physical property (homes and cottages)
  • locating  beneficiaries
  • cancelling credit cards
  • applying for probate
  • filing tax returns
  • applying for CPP death benefit
  • transferring other benefits (health, pension, employee, etc.)
  •  social media administration and digital asset management (an increasingly common component of executorship)

To catalogue all the possible duties of an executor would take more words than this blog post can accommodate. Suffice it to say: The role of an executor is complex, challenging and busy. It requires you to wear several different hats and – to use another metaphor – spin several plates.

You can use all the help you can get. Luckily, NEATSPACES has abundant experience aiding executors.

How an Estate Services Company Can Help

Especially if the deceased was a loved one or friend, cleaning out and selling their estate can be a sentimental, occasionally painful experience. On top of all the other many executor duties, it can also be overwhelming.

In our article on end of life plans, we briefly touched on the importance of compassionate estate organization services in decluttering, staging, listing and selling a home. Here, we expand on that idea, highlighting  several scenarios where NEATSPACES can help take some of the weight of executorship off your shoulders.

NEATSPACES also offers sympathetic and knowledgeable CEA services. CEAs – Certified Executor Advisors – assist you in organizing paperwork, itemizing duties according to a timeline, and several other  day-to-day tasks. They represent an experienced helping hand in a turbulent, sometimes confusing time.

Here are a few ways we can help.

Preparing the House for Sale

According to a majority of realtors polled by the National Association of Realtors, homes that are decluttered and organized or staged before listing fetch a higher price (up to 20% higher, in some cases). And another survey found that the vast majority of staged homes (85%) sold for 6-25% more than un-staged houses.

One fact that everyone can agree on is that a house should be clear and clean for sale if the seller hopes to acquire a fair, competitive price. As you prepare an estate property for sale, call in the experts at NEATSPACES. We excel at compassionately decluttering homes – editing, organizing and staging them for sale.

Evaluating Its Contents

Valuing assets is a key responsibility for executors. In our capacity as a compassionate, professional estate cleanout company, we take time to identify items of monetary or sentimental value as we work with you to edit the house.

If you’re unsure of the value of certain items, and are unsure whether to sell, auction or donate them, we will work with you to form an actionable game plan.

Packing and Dispersing

Upon evaluation, an executor needs to pack and disperse contents to beneficiaries, family members, auction houses and consignment. This process usually results in leftover items. NEATSPACES will offer options and make recommendations for dispersing the furniture, tabletop décor, art, household goods and other contents not disbursed to beneficiaries or family members.

The deceased may have also left behind a secret file – a special type of content we discussed in our article on the Swedish art of death cleaning. This file may include sensitive items like love letters, diaries and private memorabilia that the deceased wished to see thrown away. Or it may include special items the deceased wanted their family to have.

Sorting Paperwork and Shredding

As you quickly learn, the role of executor is cluttered with paperwork. And wherever there is clutter, the leading home organizers in Toronto are there to sort through it. NEATSPACES can help you sort through paperwork to prepare for taxes. And we can isolate personal, legal and other documents to keep you as organized as possible throughout your tenure as executor. We also offer shredding services for sensitive paperwork and information.

To summarize, the role of an executor is multi-faceted, requiring several steps and duties. NEATSPACES helps alleviate some of the burden by offering comprehensive estate cleanout services and CEA services. To learn about executorship on a granular level, we recommend consulting a trustworthy executor checklist or contacting your local bank for help.

For downsizing, moving and organizing services in the Greater Toronto Area contact us today!