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Common Questions

I am the executor of my mother's will and am doing the work myself

Last reviewed in February 2023 by the Clicklaw Editors.

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:

  • Dealing with an Estate, from People's Law School, is a collection of practical, step-by-step guides that you can use to learn more about how to deal with an estate.
  • Your Duties as Executor, from People's Law School, provides an overview of what is involved in being an executor and the steps in the process. You can listen to the page by visiting their Dial-A-Law website, or on the telephone by calling 1-800-565-5297 (604-687-4680 in the Lower Mainland).
  • 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? This booklet is available for download in multiple formats at the Clicklaw Wikibooks site.

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. 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:

Need more help?

  • Lawyer Referral Service, from Access Pro Bono, offers a free, brief initial consultation with a lawyer to determine your legal needs. If you would like further help from your lawyer, you can retain them at an agreeable rate of charge.
  • Find more help near you on Clicklaw HelpMap.

See our related common questions:

estates, executor, role of the executor, probate, probating a will