It’s important to enlist the help of others and assemble the right people on your estate planning team to get started. So who should be on the team and what are their jobs?

Family first

If at all possible, your family needs to know what you want and should be part of these discussions. Be clear about your wishes so that no one is in the dark about how you want to share your assets, and who to contact. By taking this proactive approach, and being specific about what you want, you can reduce family stress at a difficult time.

If your family and loved ones are the beneficiaries of your estate, then you should consider including them early in the process, since you may learn things you didn’t know about their hopes and expectations. Maybe they don’t want some of your prize possessions as much as you think they do. Now is the time to set expectations and ensure your wishes are clear and your legacy lives on in the way you want.

The executor

Your executor is the person with the legal authority to represent your estate and one of the most important people on the team when it comes to executing your will and wishes.

There are two common ways of choosing an executor:

Option 1—You choose a family member or friend who you feel has the knowledge and experience needed to represent you at the bank, in legal matters, and likely with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If such a qualified individual doesn’t come to mind, or if you are concerned that selecting one person may alienate another, consider Option 2.

Option 2—You appoint a trust company to execute your estate plan. They will charge a fee for the service, but it may be worth every dollar if it mitigates stress and avoids in-fighting with family members. They can help to ward off potential family feuds by acting only on your wishes with a degree of separation

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