What you need to know when choosing an executor
When preparing a Will, you are required to choose an executor or executors who will be responsible for the administration of your estate. It is important to choose the right person for the role.
What does an executor do?
An executor is the person or organisation you appoint to be responsible for carrying out the wishes in your Will. Your executor will be responsible for:
- Identifying all your assets and liabilities;
- Applying for a grant of probate;
- Preparing a tax returns for your estate;
- Defending any legal claims arising from your estate;
- Resolving disputes between beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries;
- Distributing the proceeds of your estate after payment of liabilities; and
- Establishing trusts (if necessary).
Who can be an executor?
An executor can be a person or organisation that you trust with capacity to administer your estate when you die.
People often ask family members, close friends or even organisations such as Australian Executive Trustee to act as executor. You can list more than one person to be your executor or choose to have one person undertake the role solely.
Can an executor be a beneficiary of the estate?
A beneficiary of the estate and the executor can be the same person. Caution must be exercised where impartiality may be in question. Where a dispute arises over property, it may be difficult for an executor to act impartially where they are also a beneficiary.
Although there is a question of impartiality, many people choose beneficiaries to act as their executor. The logic behind that decision is that the if the executor has an interest in the estate, they are less likely to waste money of the estate.
Do I need to tell my executor that I have named him or her in my Will?
You do not have an obligation to tell your executor that they are named in your Will. However, it is good practice to let your executor know that you have named them as your executor and to provide a copy of your Will, particularly if the Will sets out your wishes for dealing with your body.
Does the person named in my Will have to accept the role of executor?
No. A person is not required to accept the role of executor of your estate. If the person you list does not wish to accept the role, they will need to formally renounce their role as executor.
Want to know more?
Watch Suzi Cengarle speaking with Meier Paul Real Estate on Estate Planning, the role of Executor and Probate, Wills, Power of Attorney and Advanced Care Directive.
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