Sunday, July 13, 2014

Estate Executors – How to Increase Your Protection and Minimize Your Risk

The executor of an estate with business interests should obtain an independent professional business valuation as support for the values used in the estate administration tax (“EAT”) filing, particularly in light of recent changes to EAT legislation and the potential for personal executor liability.

At the time of probating the will, EAT (previously known as “probate fees”) of 0.5% must be paid on the first $50,000 of estate assets and 1.5% on the value of the remaining assets. [1]  The estate representative (i.e. executor or trustee) has many responsibilities, including:
  1. Filing an affidavit as to the estimated value of the estate; 
  2. Remitting the EAT on the estimated value; and 
  3. Providing an undertaking to file, within six months, a sworn statement of the total value of the estate, and to pay the balance of any additional tax owing (if any).

In 2011, the Ontario government amended the legislation to enhance the EAT compliance regime.  Beginning January 1, 2013, the Ontario Minister of Revenue will be afforded significant audit and verification functions including the right to conduct a review of the estate inventory and valuation provided by the executor.  If a greater estate value is determined, additional taxes can be assessed.  As a result, there will be much more pressure to verify the value of the assets disclosed in the EAT filing.

Penalties have been added to encourage compliance.  It will be an offence for an estate trustee to fail to make the required filing with the Minister of Revenue.  It will also be an offence for any person who makes, or assists in making, a false or misleading statement in connection with the estate trustee’s filing.  Offences are punishable by fine, by imprisonment or both.  The minimum fine will be $1,000.  The maximum fine will be twice the EAT payable.

An estate representative may be exposed to personal liability if the estate assets have been distributed before the Minister of Revenue issues a notice of assessment.  There is no ability to obtain a “clearance certificate” to protect the estate representative from personal liability.

In light of the responsibilities of the estate representative, the new audit measures, and the potential for personal liability, it will be critical for executors to be diligent in obtaining and documenting proper and accurate valuations of the deceased’s property for purposes of calculating the EAT.  Where the estate holds shares in privately held businesses, the benefits of obtaining an independent business valuation will far outweigh the costs to the estate and the risk to the executor of not having one prepared.

Contact us at or for an independent business valuation if you want to minimize your risk and increase your protection as an estate executor.

[1]  source:

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