When someone passes away, the beneficiaries look to the deceased’s Will for how the estate will be handled. Often a testator (the person who died) will appoint a son or daughter to be the Executor/Executrix of the estate. The Executor/Executrix has the responsibility for collecting all of the assets of the testator and distributing them to the beneficiaries in a timely manner. The Executor/Executrix also has to pay out any debts owed by the Testator at the time of death (including any taxes owing to the government).

If the Testator’s assets include business assets, there may be terms in the Will that allow the Executor/Executrix to manage those assets as part of the distribution of the estate. This does not mean that the Executor/Executrix can do as he/she pleases, however. They must manage the assets in a reasonable manner and must distribute them within a reasonable time (they cannot simply continue to hold them, even if they say that holding onto the asset is in the best interests of the estate).

It is not uncommon for disagreements to arise between siblings over the handling of the estate of a parent. Many of these issues can be avoided with a Will carefully drafted by a lawyer. However, not all disputes can be avoided – contact a lawyer if there is a dispute that you need help with.