About

announcement blogHi. My name is Cheryl Leslie Knighton, although everyone calls me Leslie. Please feel free to do so as well.

In this my introductory blog, I wanted to tell you a little bit about me and my credentials, and also share why I have created my new company “The Last Detail”. You can see more about me and our service offerings at www.executor-services.ca.

The germ of the idea of my company came as a result of me serving as the de-facto Executor for the estates of two family members. They were lovely people, had their affairs relatively well in order, had very simple Wills and instructions, and in both cases it took me hundreds hours to close each of their estates.

The reason the job of Executor fell to me is because I am a Chartered Account by training (my husband says I never met a detail I didn’t like), and am very familiar with financial affairs, procedures, etc. Still, it took many hours of my time. Admittedly, the second estate took less time than the first on the basis of the experience I gained… but it got me to thinking…. How many people have the skills but not the time to be an Executor, and how many have the time but not the skills? My presumptive answer… LOTS, and while the learning curve is steep, how many people will have an opportunity to use what they’ve learned by serving as an Executor a second time? My presumptive answer… FEW. Hence, “The Last Detail” was born.

I like to think of myself as a typical member of the sandwich generation. I have a job, two teenage children, and aging parents of my own who have a litany of health issues and (in my humble opinion), refuse to get their financial affairs in order in a way that is going to make my job as the Executor of their estates as easy as possible. I already know the implications of their refusal to be proactive.

  • It will significantly add to the number of hours it will take me to close their respective estates.
  • It will almost certainly result in more money falling into the hands of government agencies and less money going to their children, grandchildren, and charities of choice.
  • It may (although hopefully won’t) cause a change in the family dynamics with my siblings.
  • It may make me feel resentful that all of the work for settling the estate falls to me, while the other beneficiaries call monthly asking when they can expect their inheritance.

Among my many hopes for this new business is to convince as many people as possible who are Executors to make a condition of acceptance be an assurance that the requestor has their affairs in order. It’s really not that difficult a task in most instances. It looks like a binder with a list of assets and obligations, where they are located and how to access them. Really, along with a will… that’s all it takes; but it’s a job many choose to procrastinate preparing because who likes facing the thought of their own mortality?

One point I like to make and emphasize. Being an Executor does not require you to have a law degree, an advanced accounting designation or a membership in Mensa. In most cases, what it does require is average intelligence, an attention to detail, extraordinary organizational skills, and a significant amount of time. Many people can do this task, but I wonder what the opportunity costs are to having some or all of the administrative work done on your behalf, allowing you to focus on YOUR job, family, and perhaps the care of a surviving parent.

I built my practise so you can engage my services in a number of ways.

  1. I can help the estate for which you are serving as an Executor get their affairs in order so you have a roadmap when your responsibilities as an Executor begin.
  2. On the basis of your specific circumstances, I can build a plan which outlines the steps you will need to take as an executor, and as importantly the sequence of events in which these events need to occur. Doing the right thing in the wrong order can have significant implications on the time it takes to close an estate.
  3. On the basis of your specific circumstances, I can build a plan which outlines the steps you will need to take as an executor, and direct you to resources and professional service providers that you will engage them directly.
  4. On the basis of your specific circumstances, I can build a plan which outlines the steps you will need to take as an executor, and undertake the administrative responsibilities required for you to successfully complete the estate as efficiently as possible. This will still require some time on your part, however the amount of time will be a very small fraction of what it would be if you undertook this work yourself. I may still recommend professional service providers for specific tasks (lawyers, tax accountants, etc.), but the number of hours required for their service and therefore their fees will be significantly reduced as I ensure we get the specific answer to the specific issue.

For an introductory blog, this is getting long, so I’ll end with the obligatory call to action:

  • If you are – or will be – asked to serve as an Executor to an estate (even a simple estate), demand that the requestor have a reasonable facsimile of their financial affairs in order.
  • If you are – or will be – asked to serve as an Executor to an estate but don’t really understand the time, legal and fiduciary responsibilities and obligations, please see a lawyer or contact me at leslie@executor-services.ca. I’ll be happy to have an introductory meeting at no cost to discuss your specific circumstances, however please note I do not offer legal advice.
  • If you know of someone who might benefit from my services, please pass along my name, and I will be happy to donate 5% of my fees to either the charity of your choice or the SilverCreek Pre-school (Serving Children with Special Needs) in your name.

 

Till next time.