Canadians are unprepared for the so-called Great Transfer of Wealth, most of whom will leave their estates to untrained relatives to decipher. A Certified Executor Advisor (CEA) can be a valuable advisor to the appointed executor, the Independent Financial Brokers (IFB) summit was told May 11.

Mark O’Farrell, president of the Canadian Institute of Certified Executor Advisor (CICEA), said about 70 per cent of Canadians don’t have a current or valid will and haven’t given much thought to their estate. Even though many people are sitting in homes worth more than $750,000, some 85 per cent don’t think they have an estate issue to worry about.

As it now stands, some 98 per cent of Canadians appoint a family member as their executor – despite how complex and how risky this job has become, said O’Farrell. “We still see it as a DIY job that our kids can handle,” he said. “Canadians are going to need our help big time.”

But the pandemic, which has taken thousands of lives, has changed the urgency of how people think, live and communicate when it comes to their estates, he said.

People want to ensure that their estate is “well prepared,” but exactly what those words mean to the average person varies.

Parents and older relatives who leave their estates for adult children to work through might be doing both themselves and their estates a disservice, he said. “Can you imagine a greater placement of trust and responsibility? No. Executors are the most trusted and influential people in testators’ lives.”

Executors, said O’Farrell, care about successful estate settlement, and because of their trusted and influential relationship with their testator parents, can help ensure estates are well prepared. CEAs can assist by advising the executors in their own field of expertise and referring out to the other 16 CEA professions as and when needed.

The CEA is a standalone designation that can be a great complement to many professionals, including the CFP or CPA, explains the organization on its website.

“Certified Executor Advisors are experts in their own field but also have broad practical knowledge of everything the executor needs to know. They’re uniquely equipped to steer executors away from potential problems and toward the professionals they need,” states CICEA on its site.

The CEA program is offered online by the Canadian Institute of Certified Executor Advisors. Government-certified, the course now qualifies for the Canada Training Credit and the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit for 50-100 per cent refunds. To learn more about the program, consult CICEA’s website.