Being an Executor of an estate is an important role but what exactly is involved?
An Executor is the person appointed in a person’s Will to administer their estate and carry out their directions as set out in their Will. The Executor can be an individual person or a trustee company.
The Executor is responsible for the deceased’s property and for payment of all outstanding debts and taxes from the Estate funds, as well as distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. The role carries significant responsibilities as the Executor can be held accountable for any errors made in administering the estate, whether it is on purpose or by accident.
Once the Will has been located and read, your duties as an executor may include:
- Make funeral arrangements
- Locate or source important documentation such as the original Death Certificate; bank account information; private health insurance and Medicare; vehicle registrations; any accounts payable; life insurance policies and other items as required.
- Conduct preliminary conference with family, legal representatives and business associates
- Advise beneficiaries and ascertain immediate needs of family
- Protect the assets
- Determine assets and debts
- Obtain Grant of Probate (if required) and attend to legal formalities
- Calling in and/or transferring assets, obtain receipts and provide final statements to beneficiaries
- Distribute estate
- Preparing tax returns and getting income tax clearances.
A law firm specialising in Estate Administration, such as Gill and Lane, will guide and support the Executor through the above process.
I don’t want to be Executor
If you are appointed as an Executor but don’t wish to fulfil that role, you can ask the Public Trustee to administer the Estate instead. However the Public Trustee will charge fees to administer the Estate.
It’s important to be sure you are happy to be Executor before starting the process to avoid delays and additional costs to change the Executor part way through.
You should speak to a qualified Wills and Estate professional who can provide advice on being an Executor and administering an estate.