Many people are familiar with the concept of being named the Executor of an Estate, but few are aware of the various statutory and common law obligations that come along with being named an Executor. One of the fundamental obligations of an Executor is to protect the assets of the Deceased’s Estate.

We always recommend that an Executor or Personal Representative consult with a legal professional before proceeding with the administration of an Estate, however the following may be helpful as a general point of reference.  

  1. Search for cash, securities, jewellery, and other valuables, and arrange for their safekeeping.  Cancel the Deceased’s credit cards.
  2. Search for insurance policies and apply for any benefits. Some insurance policies have strict time limitations that you must comply with.
  3. Lock up the Deceased’s residence if it is not occupied.  Advise the police if it is not under proper supervision.
  4. Arrange for an immediate inventory of all personal assets.
  5. Check the insurance on the Deceased’s assets (e.g., house, furniture, motor vehicle).  Check the expiry dates and check the vacancy provisions to ensure that the coverage continues (a 30 day vacancy limit applies in most policies insuring residential property).  Notify the insurers of the death.
  6. Arrange for interim management of the Deceased’s business.
  7. Collect and deposit any outstanding cheques (e.g., pensions, dividends, interest, salary).
  8. Redirect mail if necessary.
  9. Check for mortgages (and determine if they are life-insured) and agreements for sale, and make the payments to keep them up to date.
  10. Check leases and tenancies. Give tenants notice about where to send rent payments and give notice of termination if necessary.
  11. Review the last cheques written by the Deceased to ensure that there were no irregularities.
  12. Notify Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security of the Deceased’s death and that they should cancel any future payments.
  13. Apply for Canada Pension Plan Death Benefits.

The preceding suggestions are of general application and do not necessarily apply to every estate administration. This list is not intended as an exhaustive list of assets for all scenarios; there may also be other assets that require protection which are not dealt with above.