The role of the Executor in your Will

Executor in a will

When making a will, you will be asked to appoint an executor who will have the important role of administering your estate. The executor of a will is responsible for the deceased’s assets and arranging payment of any debts and taxes before distributing the balance of the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will.

Who should I appoint as my executor?

Your Executor should be someone that you trust to take care of your estate and keep accurate records of all dealings in relation to your assets. Careful consideration should be given as your executor may become personally liable if they make an error or do not fulfil their role as executor properly.

You may choose to appoint one person as your sole executor, or two or more people jointly or successively (for example, I appoint my spouse as my executor, however if s/he is unavailable, I appoint my children jointly).

If assistance is required, your executor will have the option of engaging a law firm and the legal fees can be paid from the balance of your estate. Alternatively, if you feel that you do not have someone that you wish to appoint as an executor, you may consider appointing a particular law firm to undertake the role.

Duties of the executor

Your executor’s duties may include the following tasks:

  • Collecting and protecting the assets of the deceased
  • Paying any debts of the deceased
  • Locating and notifying the beneficiaries of the will
  • Undertaking everyday tasks on behalf of the deceased, such as redirecting mail
  • Obtaining a Grant of Probate (this process involves applying to the Court to confirm the will is the last will of the deceased and that it is valid. Some institutions require Probate to be obtained before they will release funds belonging to the deceased)
  • Obtaining financial advice in relation to any tax liability of the deceased
  • Defending any claims made against the deceased’s estate
  • Acting as trustee of the estate, such as where a gift is made to beneficiary who is a minor
  • Making final distributions to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will

What happens if I don’t have an executor?

If your will does not appoint an executor, or the executor is unable or unwilling to act, the administration of the estate will need to be carried out by someone appointed by the Court as the administrator of the estate.

If you’re not sure who to appoint as your executor or you have been appointed an executor in a will we can assist you by advising on the rights and duties of an executor. Contact us to speak to one of our estate planning lawyers on 07 3106 3016 or