Thursday, August 2, 2018

Serving as an Executor

I haven’t been writing much lately because I’m serving as executor for an estate. If you’re considering serving as an executor, try to be realistic about how much work is involved. So far, I’ve found that everything is at least 5 times more work and takes 10 times longer than I expected.

Even with the advantages of no longer working full time and having had a year or so to prepare, I’ve felt overwhelmed at times. The seemingly simple task of finding contact information for the beneficiaries took me a week and several calls to wrong numbers in Europe.

I also have the advantage that the biggest beneficiaries get along well. But even so, we don’t see eye-to-eye on the best way to sell the largest asset, a home. Lesser assets like furniture, crystal, silver, and art cause more work than strife. It takes time to figure out how to sell these items for more than just pennies on the dollar in an estate sale.

This experience has made me more determined than ever to do what I can to make this process easier for my sons. I give away or throw away things I don’t need. When original copies aren’t needed, I scan records instead of keeping paper copies. What records I keep are well organized. As I age and I become more concerned with passing on certain prized possessions than keeping them, I intend to find worthy recipients myself and give them away while I’m still alive. If my financial assets grow far out of proportion to what I need, I’ll give away some money while I’m still alive.

Being an executor for a family member’s estate is an honour. But know that you’ll have a lot of work to do, and you’ll be in the middle of some difficult conflicts.


  1. Your plan is excellent! In the last 10 years, we've handled the estates of all 4 of our parents. Now we're in the final days of preparing for our move to Mexico, with 4 suitcases and 7 boxes. Being free of the stuff and responsibility for it is hugely liberating!

    1. @Deborah: I've heard that we don't own possessions; they own us. It sounds like you've escaped being owned.