Common QuestionsI am the executor of my mother's will and am doing the work myself
An executor is the person named in a will to carry out the instructions contained in the will. The executor is responsible for settling the person's affairs after death. The person's estate (everything he or she owned) passes temporarily to the executor. In general, the executor gathers up the estate assets, pays the funeral costs, debts and taxes, and then distributes what remains of the estate to the beneficiaries in the will.
If you are the executor of a will, good starting points include:
- Your Duties as Executor, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, provides an overview of what is involved in being an executor and the steps in the process.
- Being an Executor, from People's Law School, outlines what is involved in being an executor and the steps you take as an executor. It provides answers to such questions as: Do I have to act as executor? Does an executor get paid? What do I do first?
- Executor Guide, from Heritage Law, provides help in understanding the steps involved in being an executor and probating a will. It includes detailed and practical information on dealing with assets, liabilities and beneficiaries.
Probate is a legal procedure that confirms the validity of the will and that you have the authority to act as executor. Be aware that you don't always have to apply for probate. It depends on the type of assets in the estate. Certain assets can be passed down without requiring probate - an example would be land owned in joint tenancy with another person.
The probate procedure includes submitting special forms and the will to the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court. The forms and procedure changed on March 31, 2014. See "I'm applying for probate; where can I find the forms required?" for more information on the documents required on a probate application.
Good starting points on probating a will include the above resources, as well as:
- About Wills and Estates, from the provincial government, has basic information about what the Probate Registry does, and information about estates and the executor's role.
- LSLAP Manual: Wills and Estates, from the UBC Law Students' Legal Advice Program, has a section on probating a will and distributing the estate.
See our related common questions:
- How do I know if a will has been probated?
- I think my relative died without making a will
- See all common questions about wills & estates
Last reviewed March 2016
- estates, executor, role of the executor, probate, probating a will