Appointing an Executor – simple considerations

When preparing your Will, who should you appoint as your Executor?

One of the important decisions that you’ll have to make when preparing your Will is who to appoint as your Executor.

An Executor is the person who is responsible for carrying out the wishes in your will. Upon your death, your appointed Executor will manage your estate according to the powers given  to him or her in your  Will and they are responsible for acting in the best interest of your estate. The choice of Executor is important so that you can have the peace of mind that your estate will be carried out in a careful and dutiful manner after your death.

Many of our clients regularly nominate a family member or close friend to be their Executor. However you can also appoint a professional advisor (ie, solicitor, accountant or financial planner) or someone else whom you trust to manage your estate. Sometimes, people will choose to appoint the NSW Trustee and Guardian.

An Executor’s duties are determined by both the Will and the laws that deal with executor’s duties and the management or administration of deceased estates. An Executor’s duties can include the following:

  • Attending to your funeral arrangements
  • Locating your Will
  • Applying to the Supreme Court for a grant of Probate of the last valid Will (Probate is a formal document that confirms the executor and gives them permission to administer the estate)
  • Determining who are the beneficiaries to your estate and their respective entitlements
  • Handling specific gifts to beneficiaries
  • Collecting assets that form your estate
  • Making sure that your debts and any other claims against your estate are received, assessed and paid if substantiated
  • Distributing assets according to the terms of the Will, including managing longer term testamentary trusts
  • Preparing and managing accounts for your estate
  • Dealing with the Australian Taxation Office, including preparing and lodging your final tax return or tax returns for your estate
  • Defending litigation or claims against the estate

Choosing an Executor isn’t always an easy task, so we have put together a list of factors you should consider when selecting a candidate for executor:

  • Age & health – Your Executor must be over 18 years of age and should generally be someone who is in good health as he or she will need to survive you in order to administer your estate.
  • Place of residence – The place of residence of Your Executor is important. For example, if your estate is located in New South Wales, your proposed Executor should also reside in New South Wales so they can be actively involved in the administration of your Estate.
  • Responsibility & security – You Executor should be someone who is willing and capable of handling the above mentioned duties in a professional and diligent manner. It is important for you to be satisfied that your appointed Executor will carry out their duties with proper care and safety to ensure that your assets are preserved and your Estate is distributed as you intended.
  • Trustworthiness & confidentiality – Your Executor should be someone who is able to carry out his or her duties with the highest degree of confidentiality and without any bias so that all your beneficiaries are treated fairly, especially in cases where your Estate is to be distributed at the discretion of your Executor.

The Executor of your estate plays the important role of carrying out your final wishes, often amidst emotional and trying circumstances. That is why selecting the right Executor is important so that you can be assured that your estate will be handled with the greatest care and in the best interest of your estate and your beneficiaries.

Further, it is always a good idea to notify the person or persons whom you have appointed as your executor and ensure that they understand their obligations and duties under your will so the process of managing your estate goes as smoothly as possible.