seeler's picture

seeler

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Legal question regarding who arranges the funeral

I'm not sure where to post this, but someone in my family may need to know in the not too distant future:  Who is responsible for arranging the funeral (presuming that it hasn't been prearranged and prepaid)?

 

Is it the next-of-kin?  The person who holds power-of-attorney?  The executor?

 

A related question:  If there are limited funds, what bills get priority?  Can the funeral be paid before it is determined if any income taxes are owing?  Or does this bill wait until after taxes and other debts are paid?

 

If the Executor realizes that there are only enough funds for a simple funeral but the next-of-kin wants an elaborate one, who decides and who pays?

 

qwerty, or any other legal types, are you out there?

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lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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hi,

 

the executive of the estate is the only one who has power to spend the deceased person's money.  the cost of the funeral will come out of the estate unless the will says otherwise and that would be very odd i think.  the executive of the estate is responsible by law to ensure that all debts are paid out of the estate ( that would include funeral bills) prior to the disbursement of the estate to the beneficiaries.

 

Taxes for the decreased person will still need to be filed ( income taxes) for the year so the executive needs to ensure that money is withheld to pay for those taxes.

 

in the case of my recently deceased father inlaw, my husband did a preliminary tax look in the summer , figured out how much he would owe, held that back and divided up the rest.

 

Arrangements are usually made by the next of kin and they can certainly pay for a funeral themselves if they choose.

 

Most funeral homes require payment immediately or with in the normal 30 day pay period.  the income taxes of a person who dies now won't need to be paid till March of 2010 so all bills need to be settled first.

 

In Canada , if it isn't a large estate, i don't think you have to probate a will by law, but that might be wrong.

Definately if there is any issues between beneficiaries I would get a lawyer involved if I was the executive. 

seeler's picture

seeler

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lastpointe - in this particular case there probably won't be enough money to pay the funeral (however modest), the taxes (which I understand take precedence over everything else) and the debts. 

 

Yes, the executor is responsible for paying debts - but what if the next-of-kin arranges a fairly expensive funeral?  This would be a debt incurred after the death that the executor has no control over.  Wouldn't the contract be between the next-of-kin and the funeral director?  Wouldn't the next-of-kin be responsible for seeing that it is paid if she arranges it? 

 

I worked in the estate business for many years, but never ran across this question.  But of course we didn't deal with estates that had virtually no assets - we might have to apportion the specific bequests at something like 80% each or so, and have nothing left for the residuary beneficiaries, but I don't remember ever working on an estate where the assets wouldn't even cover the funeral and other debts.

 

Can the CPP death benefit be paid directly towards the funeral or does it have to form part of the estate assets?

 

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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the person who arranges the funeral gets the bill.  At least in our case they billed us directly. 

No I don't think death benefit money can be sent directly to the funeral home. 

 

in reality , the funeral home has it's own problems of collecting and i would think it comes up alot. 

 

does the person who wants to throw a splashing funeral know there is no money and that the other hiers will not pick up a share?  Or will the other hiers pay in??

 

 

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Good question, seeler

Punkins's picture

Punkins

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Seeler, I will try and remember to ask at work tomorrow about some of these questions you have (I work in a law office).

seeler's picture

seeler

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Thanks Punkins.

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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I sent a wondermail to qwerty

Beloved's picture

Beloved

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Greetings!

 

seeler wrote:

but what if the next-of-kin arranges a fairly expensive funeral?  This would be a debt incurred after the death that the executor has no control over.  Wouldn't the contract be between the next-of-kin and the funeral director?  Wouldn't the next-of-kin be responsible for seeing that it is paid if she arranges it?

 

My limited experience with funerals and funeral homes is that the direct next-of-kin (usually spouse, parent, child) makes arrangements with the funeral home, and it is to this direct next of kin that the funeral home is working for, takes all instructions from, and meets the decisions of.  Therefore it is that person that is incurring the debt and will be responsible for paying the debt.  (It would be different of course if the deceased has pre-organized and pre-paid for this).  Generally, the executor has not even really begun to the do the work on the finances at this early point in the death. 

 

Generally, it is also the direct next of kin that is the major inheritor - and so whatever is left from the estate will help to cover funeral expenses.  If the bills owing are greater than the assets, then there will be nothing.  And therefore that person will be left owing fully for the expenses, and will have to come up with the money from somewhere else.

 

My personal experience has also been that the funeral director does touch on cost, payment, etc. upfront.  I know where I sit that the bill is given to the direct next of kin/funeral decision maker right after the funeral home's involvement is complete, generally right after the service.

 

Hope, peace, joy, love . . .

 

Beloved's picture

Beloved

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Greetings!

 

The questions arising in this forum should be a reminder to all of us that one of the greatest gifts we can give our loved ones - those that we will pre-decease - is the gift of  well planned, financially provided for, thoroughly instructed wishes of what we want done to us or with us at the time of our death.

 

Hope, peace, joy, love ...

 

seeler's picture

seeler

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Beloved - you are right about pre-planned, pre-paid arrangements but we keep putting it off.  I have a general idea in my head what I would like for myself  (a few favourite hymns, simple funeral, burial in a little country graveyard with my parents and brothers - and room in the plot for my husband) but I've never put it down on paper.  I do carry a card authorizing organ transplants if any of my parts can be used by someone else.

 

And I believe you are right about the person who makes the funeral arrangements being the one responsible for the bill.  When I worked in estates and trusts, the funeral was paid for out of the estate but we only handled estates that had some assets.  Probably in small estates it is usually a mote point - the next-of-kin probably is the executor if there even is a will.  In this case there are some complications.

 

LoveJoy's picture

LoveJoy

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As a clergyperson, I can only take direction from the next-of-kin for funeral arrangements (that's for the service only - not choices around caskets, cremation vs. burial, etc.) Sometimes this gets sticky when a parent of an adult child wants control of the arrangements, yet the deceased's spouse is the actual legal next-of-kin. Other times, it's sticky when a parent dies and 3 or 4 adult children are all equally "next-of-kin" and argue about the funeral arrangments. But I've always found there's a way to work it out and make everyone happy. But it's a delicate matter!

kenziedark's picture

kenziedark

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 I may be hijacking the thread a bit.  But on a related note.  What if you are appointed executor and don't want to do it?  Can you back down?  What happens then?

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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Wow!  So many questions! 

The executor of the estate under the will is the only person authorized to take charge of the assets of the deceased.  An executor is an executor whther or not the will is probated.   "Probate" is just the courts certification of the authenticity of the will.  It is the "good housekeeping seal of approval" so to speak.  If I walk in holding a piece of paper which purports to be the will of the deceased and which appoints me as executor and ask that the contents of the deceased's (according to me) account should be paid to me as trustee/executor of the estate then the payor before making the payment will want to know (a) that the account holder has really died, (b) that the piece of paper I am holding is really the last will of the deceased (and not, for instance, the second last will), (c) that the will has not been revoked, (d) that it is a valid will properly executed in observance of all the formalities, (d) that any other persons named as executors have given up their right to act ... and more.  The nightmare of every banker and broker is that they pay out the contents of an account to someone other than the person entitled to it because not only is it embarrassing but can also because it will most certainly lead to big liabilitys.  All this can be avoided by anyone dealing with an executor by insisting on seeing a "probated" will. 

However, if the amount in the account is small (and the potential liability associated with a fraud or mistake are not so terrifying) the institution usually tries to accomodate the estate of the deceased account holder by accepting the authority of an unprobated will accompanied by proper proof of death and perhaps a sworn declaration, transmission application (attesting to the above facts) and a notarized copy of the will (preferably by the lawyer who prepared it).  Very often you can get a small estate completely administered without ever applying for probate.

An example of the opening words of a will are as follows: 
 
THIS IS THE LAST WILL of me, Angel Divine, of the Township of North Dumfries, Province of Ontario.
1. I REVOKE all former wills and other testamentary dispositions made by me.
2. I APPOINT my son, Dan Divine to be the Executor and Trustee of this my Will, provided that if my said son shall have predeceased me or shall survive me but die before the trusts hereof shall have terminated or shall be unable or unwilling to act or to continue to act as such Executor and Trustee, then I appoint my niece, Melody Divine and my nephew, Sky Divine to be the Executors and Trustees of this my Will in the place and stead of my said son. References to "my Trustees" in this my Will shall include each Executor and Trustee of my Will, my estate or any portion thereof who may be acting as such from time to time whether original or substituted and whether one or more.
3. I. I HEREBY DECLARE that no individual acting as a Trustee under this my Will shall be required to give any security for the performance of his or her duties notwithstanding the laws of any country or other jurisdiction to the contrary.
4. I GIVE all my property wheresoever situate, including any property over which I may have a general power of appointment, to my Trustees upon the following trusts, namely:
a. To pay out of and charge to the capital of my general estate my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and all income taxes, estate, inheritance and succession duties or taxes whether imposed by or pursuant to the law of this or any other jurisdiction whatsoever that may be payable in connection with any property passing (or deemed so to pass by any governing law) on my death or in connection with any insurance on my life or any gift or benefit given or conferred by me either during my lifetime or by survivorship or by this my Will or any Codicil hereto and whether such duties or taxes be payable in respect of estates or interests which fall into possession at my death or at any subsequent time; and I hereby authorize my Trustees to defer, commute or prepay any such taxes or duties. This direction shall not extend to or include any such taxes that may be payable by a purchaser or transferee in connection with any property transferred to or acquired by such purchaser or transferee upon or after my death pursuant to any agreement with respect to such property.
b. To dispose of all articles of personal, domestic and household use or ornament belonging to me at my death, including consumable stores, and all automobiles and accessories thereto then owned by me, among those of my son Dan Divine, my sisters-in-law and my nieces and nephews, who shall be living at my death, in such manner and proportions as my Trustees in their absolute discretion deem advisable. Without in any way limiting the discretion of my Trustees hereunder, it is my wish that in disposing of such articles, they give effect to my wishes as expressed in any memorandum which I may leave with this my Will.
 
 
 We can see from the wording of the will what will be the first jobs of the trustee after getting in all of the property ... pay the funeral, pay the costs of administering the will, pay the taxes, pay the creditors ... in that order.  A more complete list is as follows:

funeral expenses, costs of administration, taxes and public debts, judgment debts, secured debt, other debt.

These priorities become vital in case of insolvent estates, the rule being that the debts must be satisfied in the statutory order so far as assets permit and claims of the last class reached are paid pro rata.

Those facing the prospect of the death of an insovent or impoverished person (for instance a senior living in a care home paid for by public assistance) should know that where there are little or no assets (of the deceased) that the municipality may through its social welfare facilities provide for or at least subsidize a funeral.  Call municipal or regional social assistance departments for details.  Often social workers working with care homes (or the management of care homes themselves) can point you to the right departments and people.  CPP pays a one time death benefit and this should be applied for ASAP on behalf of the estate.  Often the executor will be asked to assign this benefit to the social welfare agency providing the funeral and then the social welfare agency will pay the complete cost of the funeral.  There are of course limitations on the funeral costs and these guidelines are reasonable and can be (and ought to be) respected.  Services such as receptions ( will not be paid by the agencies and will have to be paid by the executor or the family).

Google "Canada Pension death benefit" to obtain more info from govt. of Canada website.

Executors should be careful in ordering funeral services above what can be paid by out of the estate as they may be held personally liable.

Funeral homes are (not surprisingly) well versed in these matters and can be a valuable resource when one is involved with an insolvent estate or nearly insolvent estate.

I hope this answers some of the questions asked here.

 

carolla's picture

carolla

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Hi kenziedark - Usually one would check with someone before appointing them as executor - that would be the time to accept/reject. 

 

However, if that's not done, then I think that you, as the executor, can appoint someone (lawyer, financial manager etc.) to undertake the duties on your behalf, with your input, or to assist you in carrying out the various duties.   Their fees would be paid from the estate.  There can be a lot to do, and when you're not sure what's involved it can be pretty overwhelmed ... especially if you're also dealing with grief from the death. 

Witch's picture

Witch

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Qwerty:

 

Further to what you have said, and correct me if I am wrong...

 

Once a person is deceased, the only person who can legally incur a new debt on behalf of the estate, is the executor. Previous debts and legal obligations are considered existing debts.

 

If a family member, not the executor, took it upon himself to order an elaborate funeral, without the consent or direction of the executor, then they are responsible for the cost, as they are not legally entitled to incur a debt on behalf of the estate.

Punkins's picture

Punkins

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Correct me if I'm wrong (Qwerty), but an executor can refuse the appointment. It would then fall to the alternate executor, if one is named.  If no other executor is named, then  legislation dictates a priority in which people other than the executor can apply for probate. (Executors have first priority)

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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I would agree with that witch.  In fact, I meant to write something about it.  If the executor incurs a debt for which he cannot pay (out of the assets of the estate) then he will be personally liable to pay for it.  That is because the creditor is dealing with the person in front of him (in this case, the executor) and not the estate.  The estate is not a "legal entity" or "legal person".  Only a living person with capacity to contract qualifies on that score (or a corporation which is also be a legal person).  The executor uses his own capacity to contract to do things on behalf of the estate and then is entitled to use the assets of the estate to meet the obligation because it was incurred on behalf of the estate or to reimburse himself should he use his own resources to meet the obligation on behalf of the estate.  An outsider who is not the executor has no such right to deal with the assets of the deceased so if an outsider (non-executor) contracted for a funeral without the authorization of the executor  that person would be on his own as far as payment was concerned.  The executor would, I think have to be at some pains though to make it clear to the provider of funeral services that the outsider (who we'll refer to as the "officious intermeddler" or "OI" for short) was acting on their own and not as an authorized agent of the estate and would not be paid by the estate.  Otherwise the funeral provider might have some claim against the estate under the equitable doctrine of unjust enrichment (of the beneficiaries at the expense of the OI).   Certainly the funeral director could claim against the OI but I doubt that the the OI could claim against the executor or the estate.  One should remember though that nothing in law (especially when it becomes a court case, is a slam dunk) so in such a situation, I can easily imagine that the estate might be held liable to contribute the value of "an economical funeral" and the OI to pay the difference in cost between the "economical funeral" and the "lavish funeral".  Luckily the funeral director would prefer to be dealing with the executor (who is usually also "next-of-kin" and would be unlikely to deal with take instructions from someone else.  If that was the case the whole problem would be avoided.  Further, it is usual that the financial interests of the executor and the OI (who would normally be a sibling in the sort of situation you're discussing) are aligned and the more that is spent on a funeral the less they get as part of their share in the residue of the estate after payment of funeral costs.  This tends to temper the enthusiasm of any OI's as well as the executor for an expensive funeral.  In small and insovent estates there is literally nothing to fight over and if the relatives can't agree to keep the funeral within the budget and they can't agree ahead of time to contribute equally (or at least in agreed shares or proportions) to any deficiency, then the executor named in the will can and probably should refuse to act and renounce executorship so as to wash their hands of the matter.  This will leave the OI high and dry and save the named executor from any financial embarassment.  . 

seeler's picture

seeler

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Thanks qwerty and others for your input.  It is as I expected, but I wanted a second (third, fourth) opinion. 

 

It seems that the potential trouble maker got wind of the fact there there is no money here and he has not shown up.  We will keep our fingers crossed.

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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I had breakfast with a funeral director this morning ... but the place seemed kinda dead ... (ba da bump!)  

Actually, I really did.  I had breakfast with a funeral director this morning ... (No! Really! I'm not joking!) ... and I asked him who they look to for funeral instructions.  He answered that where there is a spouse then they always look to the spouse (because there is about a 100% chance the spouse will be the executor or the administrator of the estate).  If there is no spouse then they deal with the executor (and for all the reasons I indicated). He also advised that their contracts contain a clause whereby the person who orders the funeral warrants that they have the authority to do so ie.: that they are the executor or are authorized by the executor (so that if later it turns out they are not the executor they can be sued on the basis of their breach of the warranty of authority).

So there it is ... everything you ever wanted to know (and more!) about funerals, death, dying and human greed!  Hope this helps.

Pinga's picture

Pinga

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Thanks Qwerty.

 

The other group that I have recently heard of is the Funeral Planning and Memorial Society.

 

I discovered them through a workshop series that a church in Ontario did....and we hope to model a series off of as well on items related to pastoral care.

 

Links to the various groups can be found on the Manitoba goups link page :  http://www.funeralsocietymb.org/Links.html

RevMatt's picture

RevMatt

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As someone who has worked in the industry, I have to say that pre-arranging and pre-paying your funeral is just about one of the best ideas in the history of the world.  You can put as little or as much detail as you want into the arrangement, and the executor can actually change it, but at least you know you have made your wishes clear, AND you have set the money aside, so that no matter what else happens with your life, you are not leaving your executor/descendants scrambling to find money for the service.

SLJudds's picture

SLJudds

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A good will would include instructions about funerals. My late and blessed mother was very specific. That would put the executor and the appointee in charge. I would add to Lovejoy that any person can ask for a service if there is no casket.

When my boarder committed suicide, my church held a memorial eucharest at my request (and on my dime) as I feared he would get no funeral at all. His next of kin later held a funeral using the same priest. Many, including me, attended both. I never heard a whisper that I had done anything wrong. The NOK thanked me graciously for my thoughts saying he needed all the prayers he could get.

Pilgrim's picture

Pilgrim

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I think most of your questions have been answered Seeler. I was banker for much of my life, and I was also the executor for both of my parent's estates.  A bank will normally release funds in a deceased persons account to pay funeral expense. They will require a death certificate and a copy of the funeral directors bill and may remit the funds direct to the funeral home. A bank will quite often release other funds to an estate account controlled by the executor,  without having the expense of having the will probated, providing they receive a copy of the will and have a bond of indemnity signed by the next of kin as well as any significant beneficiary named in the will ( to protect the bank in case another will shows up). As to whether taxes take priority over funeral expense, I just can not imagine a case where there would ever be income taxes owing if there is hardly enough to pay the funeral expenses.  

 

Pinga's picture

Pinga

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pilgrim -- you may know the answer to this.

 

Picture someone who is healthy, working, and has good short-term disability.
They get sick quickly, end up in a coma for a week, and then are not functioning.
money keeps coming into account from work, and short-term disability.
Bills have to be paid, such as hydro for the house, or dependent living in house expenses.

 

Question: How easy would it be to get at those funds for the dependent (over 18), or to have bills paid.  Would bankers step in, or would it require lawyers ?

(This would be in the absence of a power of attorney.

Punkins's picture

Punkins

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Pinga wrote:

Picture someone who is healthy, working, and has good short-term disability.
They get sick quickly, end up in a coma for a week, and then are not functioning.
money keeps coming into account from work, and short-term disability.
Bills have to be paid, such as hydro for the house, or dependent living in house expenses.

 

Question: How easy would it be to get at those funds for the dependent (over 18), or to have bills paid.  Would bankers step in, or would it require lawyers ?

(This would be in the absence of a power of attorney.

 

This would require an application to the Court to be appointed as the personal and property guardian of the individual under whatever provincial legislation covers that.  In Saskatchewan it is The Adult Guardianship and Co-decision-making Act.  Once you have an order naming you as the guardian, the bank will accept that and allow the funds to be accessed.  Usually these orders are for a prescribed length of time i.e. 24 months and then an application to renew would have to be made.

 

In SK (don't know about other provinces), you don't have to have a lawyer to do this and can get the forms off the government's website, but imho it's much easier if you do just because of the amount of paperwork involved and knowing who has to be served with what and dealing with the Public Trustee's office.  I've done these applications at work and they are time consuming.

Pinga's picture

Pinga

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thanks punkins..

 

a situation such as this arose recently, and it riased questions at the lunch tables....(there was a short-term request to raise money to help cover costs)

Pilgrim's picture

Pilgrim

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Good answer punkins.  These kinds of things do happen to healthy people who have an accident or a sudden illness which incapacitates them. Couples should have joint accounts. If one dies the account automatically goes to the survivor; if one is incapacitated the other can still pay the bills. For people who don't have a spouse, they should have a power of attorney naming a trusted relative or friend. Make sure however that the Power of Attorny allows the person named to act if the maker becomes incapacitated, as not all PofAs do.  All people with assets should also  have a will.

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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And make sure the Power of Attorney is up to date.  My husband had power of attorney for his dad and was the executor.  but when he was ill and dying, the bank woudln't honour the Power of attorney as it was 5 years old.

LoveJoy's picture

LoveJoy

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What?? 5 years old? That's crazy! My mom's POA was about 11 years old, and there was no problem when I activated it - when her dementia got too bad.

 

(My lawyer husband was also surprised at this - but added that there may be some provincial legislation that limits the age of it. I'm in BC. But it's a good thing to check into.)

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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It was one of those catch 22 things.

 

He had the POA but the bank wanted in renewed.  He was also the executor but he hadn't died yet.

Ultimately the bank gave in but he pulled some strings to do that.

 

 

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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Yeah, I guess he did give in!  I think maybe his legal department told them if he didn't, that instead of "pulling strings" someone would "jerk his chain" by naming the bank in a lawsuit. 

I have to say that as wrong as the banker was in this case lastpointe's (whose name I just noticed after about two years of reading it is not "lapointe") story has a ring of familiarity to me and doesn't sound completely farfetched because banks (my apologies to Pilgrim) tend to try to push around their older clients with dilatory maneuvers such as this.  They probably figured hubby was going to move dad's GIC money to a new investment outside the bank.  Usually when a banker gets real concerned and patriarchal about protecting an elderly client from the person (usually one of his children) who he has appointed as the executor and the trustee you will find that there is about $200,000 or $300,000 in 1 year or 6 month GIC's that are earning nothing and getting rolled over automatically by the bank (often for many years running) and which the banker figures (quite tightly) will get switched out about 5 minutes after the attorney takes charge. 

 

You did, I hope, switch the GIC's out of the bank didn't you lastpointe?  Or did the bank manager convince you to leave them there at his bank in view of the great favour he did for you in "pulling some strings" to get the bank to honour the completely valid appointment of your husband as attorney.

 

Powers of attorney are valid until the appointment is revoked.  There is no requirement of renewal every 5 years (or at any other interval).  This would defeat the purpose of powers of attorney which are generally meant to be used at (and for) an indeterminate time in the future and usually (but not necessarily) in an emergency.  Very often the person for whom the attorney acts may at the time the power is needed lack capacity to make any other or further power of attorney.  Sometimes it is not convenient.  If the grantor was in a position to make a fresh power of attorney just because the banker wanted one, he would also be in a position to go to the bank and withdraw his GIC's himself.  Maybe dad doesn't feel like going to the bank.  Maybe he's tired of meddlesome and condescending bankers.

 

I'm sorry but stories like this just make me crazy.  The only thing that makes me crazier is when bank clerks start telling my clients the law.  Your story, lastpointe, has it all.

 

 

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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thanks for the update qwerty.  lovely to get conned by a bank.

 

yes the money is gone now, divested with the estate.

 

and don't get me started on old people and banks.  banks seem to keep tellers solely for old people.  My father in law would go to the bank several times a week.  Social calls you know  :)

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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-when the bank teller suggest to my dear mother who is 85 or 86 now that she use her bank card in the ATM my mother always tells the teller that she comes to the teller in order to help preserve the teller's job ...

Pinga's picture

Pinga

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Thanks for this information Qwerty.

carolla's picture

carolla

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Hi Pinga - in aswer to your question higher up - Ontario's system is much the same as Punkins has described - the Public Guardian & Trustee's office gets involved if someone has no POA for property & is deemed incapable to manage their affairs.  Others can make application as Punkins says, - there are fees involved but a lawyer is not necessary.

 

Points to the need for everyone with any assets & income to have a POA.

 

Thanks for clarifying querty re the time period for POA - I had never heard of what lastpointe wrote either.  But I have heard of lots of folks getting the big run around in questioning validity of POA & findings of incapacity. 

pommum's picture

pommum

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My dad also refused to use his bank card. I think they don't trust the machines. He use to say he was going to the bank and visit with the "girls". Once they hit a certain age I don't believe they will change!

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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Hi Seeler, just wanted to say that I hope things are going well for your family in this tough time.

dupedbyex's picture

dupedbyex

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Hi there,

Brand new to this, but I am wondering if anyone knows of anyone who has shared a similar experience to mine. Two years ago my boyfriend died suddenly in a car accident. We hade been together for almost 3 years and were planning to get married. He had asked me to be his exector about 1 year into our relationship and I agreed. When I learned of his death I was away on a business trip - he died at about 5:45 am. I returned to our town with my best friends driving me in the afternoon. When I arrived I found out that his ex-wife (legally divorced) had planned the whole funeral - all details arranged. And it was way too soon as his family had to come from Europe. But they had all been contacted and given the date of the funeral, and had made flight arrangements.  I was absolutely devastated by his death and could not believe she had done this, and  didn't agree with many of the arrangements. She was his ex-wife and should have not even thought about planning his funeral.  Considering his daughter was with the ex  - I didn't want to inflict anymore stress on the daughter. And the newspaper announcement, everything had already been sent out. But I am amazed to this day that this could actually legally happen, and am saddened that my boyfriend's final wishes were not met.

Has anyone ever heard of a case where an ex steps into this scenario? 

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Welcome dupedbyex. Did you do all the other executor things - will, etc. or did she step in and do this too? Were you written down legally as the executor of his estate or did he just ask you informally?

GordW's picture

GordW

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dupedbyex wrote:

Hi there,

Brand new to this, but I am wondering if anyone knows of anyone who has shared a similar experience to mine. Two years ago my boyfriend died suddenly in a car accident. We hade been together for almost 3 years and were planning to get married. He had asked me to be his exector about 1 year into our relationship and I agreed. When I learned of his death I was away on a business trip - he died at about 5:45 am. I returned to our town with my best friends driving me in the afternoon. When I arrived I found out that his ex-wife (legally divorced) had planned the whole funeral - all details arranged. And it was way too soon as his family had to come from Europe. But they had all been contacted and given the date of the funeral, and had made flight arrangements.  I was absolutely devastated by his death and could not believe she had done this, and  didn't agree with many of the arrangements. She was his ex-wife and should have not even thought about planning his funeral.  Considering his daughter was with the ex  - I didn't want to inflict anymore stress on the daughter. And the newspaper announcement, everything had already been sent out. But I am amazed to this day that this could actually legally happen, and am saddened that my boyfriend's final wishes were not met.

Has anyone ever heard of a case where an ex steps into this scenario? 

Was there a pre-existing will that named the ex as executor?  One of the interesting things I have been told is that a marriage will impact a pre-existing will automatically but a divorce does not.

 

And funeral requests by the dying have no legal power to bind (moral power is a whole other debate) the living.  In the absence of a clearly named executor there is room for all sorts of strange funeral decisions to happen.

Pinga's picture

Pinga

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I know of a situation where there were two funerals back-to-back.  One for the ex & her family....one for the new family

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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I think unless a will was created, you didn't have a leg to stand on.

 

If you had a properly filed will, then yes you did.  Odd that she would jump in but perhaps that was because of the daughter.

 

 

dupedbyex's picture

dupedbyex

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Thanks for all your comments. Yes, I was named executor in the written, legal will. She just went to the funeral home and did everything before I returned to town, before the lawyer called etc.. When I asked the funeral director later, they claimed that they have to trust the person sitting across the table at such a traumatic time. As far as I amconcerned, his last wishes were not met and that is very sad. As I said it was a messy divorce and they kept as little contact as possible.

I like the idea of 2 funerals - now Iregret having gone to the funeral at all.

 

seeler's picture

seeler

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This is not legal advice because I am not a lawyer.  But I understand from what people have told me here, and elsewhere, that the person arranging for the funeral is the person who will receive the bill.  If the ex arranged the funeral perhaps she is prepared to pay for it - and not have it come out of the estate. 

 

I would be quick to file for the CPP death benefit as executor.  (You will need proof of death and the Will.)  Otherwise she may file for it.  I hope that she hasn't already.

DKS's picture

DKS

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dupedbyex, I am truly sorry to hear of your situation. My sympathies to you. I strongly urge you to see a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have a properly excuted will and you are indeed named as executor, then the ex-wife and the funeral director have made a huge error. You need legal advice on this ASAP.

 

As a pastor, I have learned the hard way that I do not take direction from the family regarding the funeral. I take thoughts, advice, input and I listen carefully to them and try to respond to their needs. But the person from whom I take direction is the executor of the estate. That may be the widow or widower, but not always. 

 

Recently I presided at a funeral where the family had been in a very protracted legal dispute over the father's estate. The will was clear that the estate went to his wife, but one family member disagreed. It was nasty.

 

When the wife died, the first question I asked was "Who is the executor?" A more distant family member had been named and it was with this person whom I had all my dealings, including the planning of the funeral. There was, apparently, still some family estrangement.

 

This, coupled with my own experience as an estate executor, has led me to the point of always asking. A good funeral director will do so, as well. In our town in Ontario the funeral directors are quite clear. They will only take direction from the estate executor. I think that's a good rule to follow.

 

 

DKS's picture

DKS

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I should add,

DON'T PUT FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS IN A WILL!!!

 

Prearrange, if possibe, and if you can, pre-pay. The money is protected and any left over is refunded to the estate.

 

Write the details you want down on paper and put them in a place where they will be found in event of your death. Tell your family about where your wishes are located. Better yet, discuss it with them.

 

By the way, those wishes are not binding. In Ontario, at least, the estate executor can override your whishes and do what they want (yes, it has happened!).

 

Second, I see too many families struggling to "do what Mom wanted" instead of remembering that a funeral is for them. And if that means doing things a little different from what Mom wanted, while still honouring her memory, that's great. A funeral shouldn't be a source of guilt, IMHO.  

 

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