Executors could use their own ‘thank you’ card

The paperwork involved when someone dies is very complicated

Our wide selection of greeting card categories offers verses sentimental, humorous, and all forms in between to convey best wishes on birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, retirement, the gamut of human endeavours.

But until last Thursday I never realized you have left out one category that cries out for a selection of its own. You have no card designed to thank an executor for successfully winding up an estate without sibling arguments over who got what, no court challenges by fringe relatives, or hurt feelings that can fester and ruin Christmas dinners for years into the future.

When we think of drawing up a will, we may approach a relative or trusted friend to ask them if they would be willing to be executor of our estate. We may do this without fully understanding how time-consuming and stressful the role of executor can be.

Uppermost in our mind is choosing an executor whom we trust to be fair, honest, diligent in observing the law to the letter to avoid legal hitches bound to fritter away the deceased’ hard earned estate, someone who will navigate the potential disagreements to reach a satisfying conclusion for everyone.

The executor is charged with gathering up all the deceased’ assets – land, house, money, investments, personal items and other assets; safeguarding all property beginning with changing door locks and putting valuables in storage; notifying all beneficiaries; paying all outstanding debts; paying income tax; and finally distributing whatever is left of the estate.

As if it’s not stressful enough notifying beneficiaries who may not have been in frequent contact, finding all financial documents some of which may be tucked in odd corners, and doing the work of a lawyer and an accountant, divvying up personal belongings can be a minefield as the executor strives to be fair to all.

Thirty-two years ago my older brother acted as executor for our father’s estate, an estate more complicated than Mom’s (his first experience as executor a few years earlier). Mom and Dad held everything in joint ownership. Her estate went to Dad. Joint ownership speeds up succession from one spouse to the other as the will doesn’t need to be probated, a court proceeding which generally takes a minimum of six months.

Dad’s estate dealt with several pieces of property that had to be sold, a home full of treasured pieces of furniture and personal belongings to be divided among six kids, and scattered financial records which had been too much for him to file properly in his ailing health.

To distribute personal belongs, my brother had each heir in rotation name a family memento they would like to have. So far as I am aware, no one ever felt shorted. I was perfectly satisfied with the disposition of Mom and Dad’s belongings. But until our conversation last Thursday I had never told my brother that. Nor has anyone else.

Why not? Why did I never think to say to my brother, “Thank you for a job well done.” Surely in 32 years an opportunity would have cropped up?

I was oblivious to the monumental task my brother had taken on and executed so well. I took it for granted he had been asked to be Mom and Dad’s executor, and as kids, we did our duty without expectation of a thank you, or praise such as the ”Good job!” today’s parents utter after every little thing their kids do.

I didn’t even consider that during the months my brother spent evenings and weekends away from his family tending to our parents estates he, too, was grieving.

Hallmark could prod us by printing a card heirs could sign to convey to executors the gratitude we owe them.





Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority reported an isolated cluster of COVID-19 cases among non-direct care staff at the New Aiyansh Health Centre. (Gary Fiegehen/Nisga’a Lisims Government)
New Aiyansh Health Centre experiencing COVID-19 cluster among non-direct care staff

Nisga’a Valley Health Authority asking residents to cancel appointments outside the Nass Valley

A photo of the CervixCheck at-home test kit, developed by Eve Medical. (Submitted Photo/Katina Pollard, Métis Nation British Columbia)
Pilot project puts cancer screening into the hands of northwest B.C. women

Métis women experience barriers to cervical cancer screening

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

The Nisga’a Lisims Government has extended its state of local emergency. (File photo)
Nisga’a state of local emergency extended, vaccines delayed

There are 21 active COVID-19 cases in the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read