In his 2007 album Memory Almost Full, Paul McCartney looked ahead to “The End of the End” and sang: “On the day that I die I’d like jokes to be told / And stories of old to be rolled out like carpets / That children have played on / And laid on while listening to stories of old.”
Apart from the famous jazz processions of New Orleans, such a celebratory end is still rare in the Western tradition. And for surviving family members who find themselves appointed executors at this moment, there’s not much time to recall the memories and laughter that came before — not when the reams of paperwork and days of stress await.
Innovative financial planners are trying to change that. A program offered by Canada Life is one example of a pre-packaged estate planning service that is focused on keeping executors in compliance and on track. There is certainly a great need for such a soup-to-nuts approach, as many executors learn the hard way.
In one sense, being named the executor of an estate is quite an honor. The choice telegraphs to the family that your loved one had great faith in you, and was willing to entrust their final wishes to your skill and judgment.
But once the feeling of pride wears off, the practical reality emerges. Executors often find themselves pulled in many directions, and not infrequently become a target for disgruntled family members. The position can even expose an individual to legal liability. An executor doesn’t need to do anything wrong to find themselves a defendant in a civil case.
Canadian financial planner Nathan Garries has seen this up close. Over the years he has encountered executors desperate for help and hungry for information and guidance. He was happy to provide it, but he also knew there must be a better way. Winging it is just not an option for any executor, and most executors are not in a position to afford expensive attorney fees once complications arise.
“As executors begin to balance a range of important responsibilities, they soon become aware of the significant legal and compliance issues they must manage,” observes Garries. “If there is no living trust, those responsibilities will likely include probate, a lengthy, protracted and costly process. If there is a trust, there are related duties to ensure assets are identified and divided appropriately.”
Nathan Garries discovered the Canada Life Estate at Ease™ service and began offering it to clients. For a flat fee, it includes the advice executors want, along with every document they will need. A Canada Life rep also assists in the search for dormant bank accounts and other hidden assets, relevant pensions and life insurance policies, tax notices and other obligations.
“As an executor, you feel an immense obligation to your loved one, to handle all affairs in accordance with both the letter and spirit of his or her wishes,” says Garries. “And you also realize that you have obligations to others — including heirs mentioned in a will or trust document. The government will also remind you that you have an additional obligation; one that involves stacks of documents to demonstrate compliance with myriad laws.”
When Nathan Garries tells his executor clients about this comprehensive service, he sees the “deer in the headlights” look fade away, along with much of the fear.
Nathan says he can’t imagine a better way to honor the memory of a departed family member. After all, he points out, no one planning the future of their estate ever intends to bequeath months of stress and apprehension to the people they love.
Important information about mutual funds is found in the Fund Facts document. Please read this carefully before investing. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently, and past performance may not be repeated. Unit values and investment returns will fluctuate.
Insurance products, including segregated fund policies, are offered through Beyond Business Financial Solutions Inc., and Investment Representative Nathan Garries offers mutual funds and referral arrangements through Quadrus Invest