Estate Planning
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How to Appoint an Estate Trustee in Mississauga, Ontario

Written by
The Tabuchi Law Team
Published on
January 7, 2024

What is an estate trustee?

An estate trustee is a person or organization appointed by a will or the court to manage the estate of a deceased person. The estate trustee is responsible for collecting the deceased person and the estate's assets, paying the estate's debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the will's beneficiaries.

The role of an estate trustee is complex and vital, and it is essential to choose a qualified and experienced trustee. The trustee should be someone familiar with the law of estates and trusts and able to handle the financial and emotional aspects of the job.

Suppose you are considering appointing an estate trustee. In that case, it is essential to do your research and choose someone you trust who can handle the position's responsibilities.


How to appoint an estate trustee

There are two ways to select an estate trustee:

  • By Will
  • By court order

If you want to appoint an estate trustee in your will, you can do so by simply stating in your will who you would like to be the trustee of your estate. You can also specify the powers and duties you want the trustee to have.

Suppose you do not have a will or want to appoint a trustee other than the person in your will. In that case, you can apply to the court for a certificate of appointment of the estate trustee. The court will appoint a trustee it believes is suitable to manage your estate.

The costs of appointing an estate trustee vary depending on the complexity of the estate and the fees charged by the trustee. The benefits of establishing an estate trustee include:

  • Ensuring that your estate is managed following your wishes
  • Providing continuity of management for your estate
  • Reducing the risk of disputes among your beneficiaries


The different types of estate trustees

There are two main types of estate trustees: personal and testamentary.

The deceased person appoints a personal estate trustee to manage their estate during the probate process. The probate process is the legal process of transferring the ownership of the deceased person's assets to their beneficiaries. A personal estate trustee is responsible for collecting the deceased person's assets, paying their debts, and distributing their assets to their beneficiaries according to the terms of their will.

testamentary estate trustee is appointed by the deceased person's will to manage their estate after completing the probate process. A testamentary estate trustee manages the deceased person's assets to benefit their beneficiaries.


The role and responsibilities of an estate trustee

An estate trustee is responsible for managing the assets of a deceased person's estate, which includes collecting the assets, paying the debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. The estate trustee also must protect the interests of the beneficiaries and ensure that the estate is administered per the deceased person's wishes.

The specific duties of an estate trustee will vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate. However, some of the most common responsibilities include:

  • Collecting the assets of the estate
  • Paying the debts of the estate
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries
  • Administering the estate following the wishes of the deceased person
  • Protecting the interests of the beneficiaries

An estate trustee is a fiduciary, meaning they have to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. This means they must be honest, impartial, diligent in performing their duties, and must always put the estate's interests ahead of their own.

Suppose an estate trustee fails to perform their duties properly. In that case, they may be held liable for any damages that are caused.


How to find an estate trustee

There are a few different ways to find an estate trustee. You can:

  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or other professionals
  • Contact a local law firm that specializes in estate law
  • Search online for estate trustees in your area

When choosing an estate trustee, finding someone qualified, experienced, and trustworthy is crucial. You should also ensure that the estate trustee is someone you are comfortable working with.

Once you have found an estate trustee, you must sign a written agreement with them. This agreement will set out the terms of their appointment, including their duties, responsibilities, and compensation.

If you have any questions about choosing an estate trustee, consult experienced estate planning attorneys like our team at Tabuchi Law.


The costs of appointing an estate trustee

The costs of appointing an estate trustee can vary depending on the estate's complexity and the services the trustee will need to provide. Some of the expenses that may be incurred include:

  • Legal fees for preparing the will and trust document
  • Court filing fees
  • Property transfer taxes
  • Accounting fees
  • Investment management fees
  • Tax preparation fees
  • Other miscellaneous expenses

When deciding, it is essential to factor in the costs of appointing an estate trustee. If you are concerned about the costs, consider establishing a corporate trustee, as they typically charge lower fees than individual trustees.


The risks of not appointing an estate trustee

You may face several risks if you do not appoint an estate trustee. These include:

  • Your estate may not be distributed according to your wishes.
  • If you die without a will, the law will determine who will be your estate trustee. This may not be the person you would have chosen, and it may not be someone familiar with your wishes or assets.
  • If you have minor children, the court will appoint a guardian. This person may not be someone you would have chosen, and they may not have your children's best interests at heart.
  • Suppose you have any assets held in joint tenancy with another person. In that case, those assets will pass to that person automatically. This may not be what you want, especially if you have other heirs who you would prefer to inherit those assets.
  • If you have any debts, those debts will be paid out of your estate before any assets are distributed to your heirs. This means that your heirs may not receive as much as they would have if you had appointed an estate trustee to manage your estate.
  • Your beneficiaries may have to go through probate, which can be lengthy and expensive.
  • Your estate may be vulnerable to fraud or mismanagement.
  • Your family may be forced to deal with the stress and conflict of trying to manage your estate without the help of a professional.

By appointing an estate trustee, you can avoid these risks and ensure your wishes are fulfilled after your death.

Suppose you are concerned about the risks of not appointing an estate trustee and seek more information. In that case, consulting with a legal team you trust is necessary.


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