Executor challenge

If you have ever been an executor for someone who has died, you know it can be tremendous amount of work. 

It is like becoming inspector Columbo, to find out the information, you need to ask a lot of questions. If you have been named executor, how do you confirm you were named as the executor?  

You need to get the original version of the will to verify this. The challenge is finding the original will. If it’s not at their home, the original will may be in a safety deposit box or at the lawyer’s office. You need to have the safety deposit box key and a death certificate. A good idea is to keep a copy of the will with your safety deposit box key so the executor knows before they go into the bank that there will be no challenges. If the will is at the bank and names you as an executor, the bank will let you

The bank will also let you take the contents of the safety deposit box. If you still have no luck finding the original will, you can do a search at the Vital Statistics agency if the will was drawn up in British Columbia.  (

The testator or the testator’s lawyer may have registered a will’s notice with the government. This notice may help you find the will as it sometimes tells where the testator planned to keep the original will and confirm the executor.  

The next step is the probate process. It is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property under their valid will. However when property that is not part of the will is discovered, such as old life insurance policies and annuities, it becomes a mystery again. Often, documentation for lifeinsurance and annuities made decades ago may have been misplaced or lost, leaving the executor to look for someone who can trace things. To top it off several Canadian Life insurance companies have merged, leaving the executor to wonder what the new life insurance company name is. For example, most companies never issue annual statements on annuities. It is a policy issued once and you usually never get a statement. 

How will the executor ever know this if there have been no statements on an old annuity policy for years? The best tip I can give someone to help out simplifying the job as an executor is lists, lists and lists. Think of all the banking and insurance that you do and start the list there. Go over your bank records and cancelled cheques to add to the list. If you still cannot find any documentation on life insurance or annuities, contact your life insurance agent or financial advisor or the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association ( 


Prepared by: Grant W. Hicks RDB, C.I.M., FCSI, Retirement Planning Specialist with Hicks Financial. Information provided is not a solicitation and although obtained from sources considered reliable, is not guaranteed. The views and opinions contained in this article are those of Grant W. Hicks. Comments or questions Grant can be reached at 250-954-0247 or 1-866-954-0247. E-mail: Web:


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