Your Will – Who Does What?

Posted on January 14th, 2016 by Centennial Law in Wills

If, after reading the title to this article, you were hoping for a "tell all" story about what this politician or that realtor, etc. left in their will, you will be disappointed.  Lawyers cannot reveal that kind of thing.  If, however, you have never done a will before, then you might be wondering about how your wishes actually get carried out.

First of all, a lawyer or notary public usually files a Wills Notice with Vital Statistics after a will is signed.  No, a copy of the will is not filed with Vital Statistics but the Wills Notice contains information about where the will is located.

Then, the will-maker dies.  If family members cannot find the original will, they will do a Wills Search to find if a Wills Notice has been filed.  The Wills Search will identify the date and location of all of the deceased’s (registered) British Columbia wills – even wills no longer valid after being replaced by a later will.

Now, we get to the "who does what" question.  Almost all wills appoint an executor.  It is the executor's job to see that the wishes expressed in your will are carried out.  If there is no will or the will doesn’t appoint an executor, then a family member can apply to court to be appointed the "administrator."  The role of the executor or administrator is to take control of all estate assets, liquidate them where appropriate and then distribute the estate assets as directed in your will.

Is the executor (or administrator) paid for their work?  By law, the executor (or administrator) is entitled to be paid up to 5% of the value of the estate capital and 5% of the income earned by the estate during administration.  For estates requiring more than a year to administer, a small amount of additional compensation can be paid.  The 5% amounts just mentioned are maximum amounts.  They would typically apply for smaller estates but a smaller percentage is usually paid to the executor of a larger estate.

So to answer the question, "who" is the executor or administrator and "what" is the distribution of your property in accordance with your wishes.

Article written by Centennial Law Corp. (Douglas E. Dent)


The specific facts of any real life situation can have many unforeseen legal implications. As a result, please note that the general information found in the above article should not be treated as legal advice.