Losing a loved one is never easy, and the legal and financial processes that follow can add to the stress of an already difficult time. 

As an executor of someone’s Will, you have a number of important responsibilities. Hiring an accountant to assist will save you time and grant you peace of mind, knowing that the deceased’s estate will be administered correctly. They can also advise on how to reduce tax liabilities associated with the estate.

In this article, we provide three tips when it comes to hiring an accountant to assist with estate administration duties.

1) Understand an accountant’s role in the estate administration process

An estate accountant’s scope of work typically includes the following:

  • Filing the deceased’s final/terminal tax return and estate returns if necessary
  • Determine if there are any post-mortem plans or beneficial tax elections to be made to reduce tax liabilities for the estate and its beneficiaries
  • Correspond with legal and other financial advisors
  • Preparing a statement of accounting and work with the executor to make sure the financial records of the estate are in tact
  • Providing general counsel on tax-related matters associated with estate administration

See our Executor’s Checklist for Estate Returns for info on what to prepare before you meet with your estate accountant.

2) Understand your role as an executor

As an executor, you are responsible for ensuring everything above is completed (either by yourself or an accountant). You are also responsible for locating, reviewing and understanding the Will of the deceased person and putting it through probate if required. Then, you will need to ensure beneficiaries are notified and kept informed while you liquidate the assets and administer the estate under the terms of the Will. Finally, an executor will seek a Clearance Certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency prior to making the distributions from the estate.

You may want to request help from an accountant and a lawyer, depending on your skillset, capacity and the complexity of the estate.

3) Hire an accountant early in the process

Some executors believe they should wait until a Will is verified through probate before hiring an accountant. This is not necessary. If there is a Will in place, an accountant can begin work immediately. They can also advise on the next steps, refer you to experienced estate lawyers, and coach you through the full estate administration process, from the funeral all the way to receiving the Clearance Certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency. 

The estate administration process can be very daunting, having qualified professionals by your side can bring you peace of mind and reassurance that you are fulfilling your duties as an executor. 

As you will need to provide accounting to beneficiaries on a regular basis, bringing an accountant onboard as soon as possible will ensure that the accounts associated with the estate are in order early on so you will be ready to report on their status moving forward.

An accountant goes over estate paperwork with a client.

RHN CPA is Here to Help

If you’re unsure how to carry out your role as executor or need assistance with any part of the financial process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with RHN CPA. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team is here to provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Book a consultation.

This post has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not advice. The information presented may not fit your unique situation, please consult one of our trusted business advisors at RHN CPA for further clarification and interpretation of your circumstances.