Boomers Baffled about What it Means to be Executor of a Will



    
    According to BMO/Ipsos Reid survey:

    -   close to one-third think they would have to take care of the
        deceased's children
    -   one in four believe they would be obligated to adopt deceased's pets
    -   more than half think they would have to interpret what the deceased
        meant in any confusing parts of the will
    

    TORONTO, June 13 /CNW/ - As baby boomers prepare for the next phase of
their lives and plan their estates, a recent survey for BMO Financial Group
found that there is mass confusion over what the role of an executor actually
entails.
    According to the BMO/Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian boomers, when given a
choice of nine options, only five per cent of boomers correctly identified the
tasks an executor is responsible for completing. While most (88%) correctly
chose the administrative tasks of: 'pay the bills, redirect all mail, cancel
subscriptions' and 88 per cent also selected 'review all bank and investments
statements and close accounts', almost one-third (31%) of boomers incorrectly
selected 'take care of the deceased's children until they reach the age of
majority' and close to one in four (24%) mistakenly thought they needed to
adopt the deceased's pets.
    Not only are boomers confused about the tasks the executor role requires,
they also have misconceptions about how long it takes to complete the work,
which usually takes longer than a year. While more than a third (37%) thought
it would take between 6-12 months, 39 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women
said one-to-five months and only 17 per cent said it would take more than a
year.
    "This level of confusion over what it means to be an executor is quite
surprising," said Jean Blacklock, Vice President and Managing Director, Wealth
Services, BMO Financial Group. "Based on our ongoing research, we know that
boomers have competing priorities and concerns, so it's important for them to
understand that an estate isn't wrapped up in a couple of months - that being
an executor is not a quick or easy job. They need to keep this in mind if they
are asked to act as an executor or if they're choosing an executor for their
own wills."

    Executor role conjures up negative feelings

    The survey also revealed that the confusion over the executor role is
often coupled with negative feelings towards this responsibility. According to
the findings, boomers who have acted as an executor, or who know someone who
has, have some negative association with the experience. The top three choices
to describe the experience were: time consuming (39%), stressful (30%) or
difficult (26%). Only a small percentage described it as positive (13%) and
11 per cent said it was rewarding. Women were more likely to have negative
feelings about the role.
    While 41 per cent of boomers said they would feel honoured to be named an
executor, 35 per cent said they would feel nervous or intimidated. Only
21 per cent said they would feel confident and 16 per cent didn't know how
they would feel.

    Boomers would still name a family member as an executor

    Yet, despite the confusion and mixed feelings toward the role, two-thirds
of boomers said they would choose a family member as the executor of their
wills - a spouse (30%), a child (21%) or a sibling (18%). More women than men
are likely to appoint a child (25% vs. 16%). Only eight per cent would choose
a professional - either a lawyer (7%) or a trust company (1%). Interestingly,
almost half of boomers (46%) indicate that, if they chose to decline the role
of executor, they would decline based on the grounds that 'they didn't feel
they had an understanding of or the knowledge to carry out all that is
required.' More than a third of decliners (36%) would decline on the grounds
that they live in a different province or country.
    "It is perplexing that some respondents indicate they would name a
relative as their executor yet admit they might decline to carry out this
responsibility for someone else if they felt they didn't understand the role,"
said Blacklock. "As boomers turn to the important tasks of planning their own
estates as well as acting as executors on behalf of others, seeking
professional advice is a good first step. When it comes to administering an
estate, retaining the assistance of a trust company like BMO Trust is a
practical, cost-effective option.
    "Estate planning is just one of the many areas that boomers need to start
thinking about, in addition to their retirement plans, and BMO is here to
assist them with identifying and addressing the key issues associated with the
next phase of their lives," added Blacklock.

    BMO helps clients appointed as executors

    BMO Financial Group has developed a guide, available at all BMO branches,
to help provide executors with the information they need to carry out their
duties. For executors seeking direct assistance, BMO Trust Company can take on
some or all of the administration - from the initial review of the will to the
final distribution of the assets. More information, including a comprehensive
list of executor tasks and tips on how to choose an executor, is available at
www.bmoinvesting.com/settling_the_estate.

    The survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid for BMO Financial Group. 1,430
Canadians aged 45-60 were surveyed between May 22 - May 27, 2007.





For further information:

For further information: JoAnne Hayes, Toronto, joanne.hayes@bmo.com,
(416) 867-3996; Lucie Gosselin, Montreal, lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514)
877-1101; Laurie Grant, Vancouver, laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596;
Internet: www.bmo.com/regeneration


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