Choose Wisely: Picking an Executor and a Power of Attorney

You want to make sure the right people are looking after your finances when you can’t do it yourself.

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Being an executor is a challenging job – so is picking one. Here are a few questions you should ask when choosing an executor:

Does your executor live nearby?

General practice is to appoint an executor who lives in the same province, city or town as you. This makes it much easier to deal with your beneficiaries and your assets.

It is your estate and if you have your heart set on having two executors (such as both of your children), you can do so.

Is your executor good at getting things done?

Making immediate arrangements, distributing the estate, filing tax returns, working with lawyers and accountants as required, and gathering, protecting, evaluating and selling assets are some of the extensive and varied responsibilities of an executor. This is not a place for a procrastinator.

Do you need more than one executor?

If being an executor is so challenging, should you name two? Typically, having one is thought to be easier – less time, less paperwork. However, it is your estate and if you have your heart set on having two executors (such as both of your children), you can do so.

Will your executor likely live longer than you?

It’s grim to think about, but it’s important to consider. Choosing an executor who is younger than you, and in good health, helps ensure your executor will be around to act on behalf of your estate.


Be the best power of attorney that you can be

When you’re chosen as an executor, you act on behalf of someone’s estate after they’ve passed away. When you act as a power of attorney (POA), you legally act on behalf of someone’s best interests while that individual is still alive but unable to do so on his or her own. Both jobs are a tremendous responsibility. If you have been named as a POA, be sure to follow these dos and don’ts.

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    DO fully understand what your “powers” entail

    POAs can take many forms. Some have limited powers that only deal with certain assets or are in place for a certain time period, while others have general powers that give total power to deal with all of the individual’s property.

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    DO get sound advice

    POAs can also get taken advantage of. Remember that accountants and lawyers are not financial advisors. Be sure to ask a financial advisor for advice with respect to protecting financial assets.

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    DON’T abuse your powers

    Financial abuse is a serious issue. If a person has chosen you as a POA, he or she is relying on you to act on his or her best interests and not your own. Being a POA does not give you free will to use the donor’s money or bank cards for your own personal expenses.

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    DON’T forget to keep the donor informed

    Give the donor who named you POA peace of mind by keeping him/her informed about how financial affairs are being managed.

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