2015-09-22

The role of an Ontario Estate Trustee compared to a liquidator of a succession in civil law

In the common law, this role has traditionally been called the ‘administrator’ or ‘executor’ of the estate, but for the past 20 years in Ontario we have used the term ‘Estate Trustee’. The Estate Trustee in Ontario generally has a broader role, with greater powers of sale etc., than that of a ‘liquidator of a succession’ under the civil law. The Estate Trustee is responsible for respecting the law, acting honesty and prudently, and can be called to account for losses or negligence. However, the Estate Trustee operates mostly independently from the beneficiaries, and does not require their unanimous consent to carry out such duties as paying the debts, selling property and making distributions. Consulting the heirs for their views on various matters is probably a prudent idea in order to avoid problems down the line.

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