This is the seventh of a series on the duties of an executor. Think of it like a checklist, with everything an executor needs to take care of. To make this list as comprehensive as possible, we’ve divided the series into 12 parts.

 To view the series in its entirety, follow this guide:

Administer and administrative are two words derived from the same meaning - taking responsibility for running something.

That’s precisely what an executor does.

You’ll be faced with various administrative duties - and the paperwork they come with. It’s important to be thorough and ensure you properly notify creditors according to local laws. As well, you need to go through the right financial channels to ensure assets and funds can be administered correctly. 

Notifying creditors

When it comes to administering an estate, debts need to be considered before any money or assets can be given away.

In this section, we provide an overview of how to notify creditors, and the reasons for doing so, when someone dies. It’s important to consult your provincial or state government policies on notifying creditors before proceeding, as they can vary by region.

You are required to notify creditors by publishing a notice in local media. In some states and provinces, you’re able to notify creditors via online advertising channels, - rather than newspapers, which may be expensive and poorly read.

Once probate is opened, creditors have a limited amount of time from the date they were notified of the death to make claims for money owed. Having a digital or physical record of when the advertisement goes to publish can help avoid conflicts with creditors.

Registering assets in the name of the estate

In part five of this checklist, we covered taking inventory of the deceased’s assets. That’s where this inventory will come in handy.

You may need to re-register assets in the name of the estate. For example, an investment account should no longer be registered to John Smith, but the Estate of John Smith.

This is also where probate is important. The majority of the institutions you work with to re-register assets will require a probated will, with proof that you are the executor of the estate.

Once assets have been transferred to the estate, they can be transferred from the estate to beneficiaries providing debts are paid.

Opening a dedicated bank account

Once someone is deceased, it’s no longer possible to open a bank account in their name. That’s why you need to make an account dedicated to funds from the estate.

In order to properly administer this bank account, an executor needs to be as explicit as possible that the account doesn’t contain your personal funds and is being held for the estate.

You’ll need to create the account in the name of the estate, like “The Estate of [Insert Name Here].”

Remember, accounts that continue to be jointly held by a living family member are not considered part of the estate and don’t need to be transferred to this account. The surviving partner or child retains ownership.

Here are some specific examples of what the account can be used for:

  • Paying fees relating to administering the estate
  • Depositing refunds for prepayments of services or items for the deceased (example: A deposit given for a household renovation that was refunded upon their death)
  • Payments of death benefits or pension plans
  • Funds received from the sale of estate assets
  • Proceeds from insurance policies or other policies payable upon death

You will still be required to keep receipts and records of all transactions.

Once the estate has been fully distributed to beneficiaries, this account should be closed.

Next in the Executor Duties Checklist, applying for benefits for spouses and beneficiaries.