June 20, 2021

Exceutor’s Authority and Responsibilities – How much?

G+G King of the Castle


The authority of an Executor or Estate Trustee comes from the wording of a Will (if there is one), the various Estate Administration Statutes and previous cases that have been decided by Courts.

Estate litigation is rampant in Ontario these days. A trend that seems to be developing is a perception by Executors that they have complete authority to make decisions in relation to the Estate regardless of what the Will says and regardless of what their other legal obligations are.

The following are some of the manifestations that we have observed in recent Estate disputes:

  • An Estate Trustee thought that they could determine what assets were and weren’t included in the Estate with a view to excluding some beneficiaries from the benefit from certain Estate Assets;
  • Estate Trustees commonly think they have complete discretion with respect to when the Estate Administration will be completed and many think it is fine to delay the distribution for years following the date of death;
  • Estate Trustees commonly think they (or members of their family) can buy Estate assets at whatever price the Executor considers appropriate.

If you are the Beneficiary of an Estate and the information the Executor is giving to you in relation to Estate assets, timing of distribution or other matters does not make sense to you (or the Estate Trustee is ignoring you), you should consult a lawyer with respect to your rights as a Beneficiary of the Estate. If the Executor is acting improperly, some or all of your legal costs may be Ordered to be paid by the Executor. In many cases where the Estate Trustee is not personally liable for the legal costs of the Beneficiary, the Estate will cover part or all of those legal expenses.


Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance or advice with respect to Estate Law, Estate Planning, Estate Administration or Estate Litigation. We may be reached at 705-435-4339 / 1-877-85LEGAL (1-877-855-3425) or contact us via email.