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What Is a Professional Executor?

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Learn when and how to choose a professional executor, plus the benefits of this specialized service.

A person sits at a desk with a laptop, glasses, and an open notebook.

Acting as an executor is a challenging job. Aside from requiring countless hours spanning over a period of 18-24 months, the process can be wrought with difficult decisions, strained family dynamics, and endless priorities to manage.

Although many Canadians appoint a close family member or friend as their executor, some choose to appoint a professional executor instead. Professional executor services are typically offered through trust companies or other advisors, like lawyers, and can be a welcome lifeline for the family during an emotionally difficult time.

When to choose a professional executor

You should consider appointing a professional executor under the following situations:

  • Your assets are complex: including assets in other jurisdictions, private business interests, multiple properties, loans to non-arm’s length individuals, digital assets;

  • Your family is complex: including beneficiaries in other jurisdictions, children with unique needs, strained family dynamics, second marriages, children from a previous relationship;

  • You don’t have a suitable alternative: your executor should be responsible, organized, business-minded, and have the ability to be objective. They should ideally be younger than you, live in the same province or territory (or at least country), and have the time and willingness to act; or

  • You don’t wish to burden loved ones with the responsibility.

Benefits of a professional executor

Professional executors provide both measurable and intangible benefits for the deceased and their family, such as:

  • Unbiased decision making: professional executors remain impartial during the estate administration and ensure decisions are made with the interests of all beneficiaries in mind.

  • Limited personal liability: acting as an executor can incur a high level of personal liability if mistakes are made during the estate administration. Despite the best of intentions, non-professional executors that make decisions which negatively affect the value of the estate can be subject to a substantial personal cost.

  • Enhanced family harmony: losing a loved one is an emotional time. On top of grieving the loss, the executor must make difficult decisions that may not be favoured by certain beneficiaries. Having a neutral third party act as an executor can divert conflict and lessen emotionally charged responses.

  • Efficiency and expertise: professional executors are experts at managing complex situations and assets. They have a deep understanding of the estate administration process, take action to move the administration forward, and engage tax and legal professionals when required.

  • Ensured continuity: appointing a professional executor provides assurance that there will always be someone able and willing to act when the time comes to manage the estate.

How to choose a professional executor

The demand for professional executor services have grown over the last decade, specifically as baby-boomers age and pass their wealth to the next generation. It’s no surprise that there are 16 trust companies and several other professional fiduciaries in Canada offering this valuable service to individuals and their families. Guardian Estate Company specializes in connecting clients with professional executors and trust companies. We utilize our industry network to source competitively priced and reliable estate solutions. If you are in the process of planning your estate or considering appointing a professional executor, Guardian Estate Company can assist. Contact Guardian Estate Company today to learn more.


The above is intended for informational purposes only. It is not legal or financial advice. EstateBox and Guardian Estate Company accept no liability for any losses arising from use of the above information. We recommend you speak to your lawyer regarding your unique situation.

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