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Understanding the Essentials: What is an executor?

by | Mar 4, 2024 | Wills & Estates

In the administration of a deceased estate, the term ‘executor’ hold significant importance.

An executor is a crucial role and is the person authorised and appointed in a Will to administer an estate in accordance with the terms contained in the Will.  Often they will be referred to as an executor, an executrix or a legal personal representative.

Being an executor can be complicated. Executors must at all times act with care and in the best interests of the beneficiaries to the estate.  An executor is required to administer the estate as quickly as reasonably possible and in accordance with the terms of the Will.

An executor has an important role and must perform certain responsibilities including:

  • Locating and interpreting the Will and identifying the willmaker’s intentions;
  • Identifying the assets of the estate;
  • Protection of the assets including arranging appropriate insurance or taking possession of the assets;
  • Obtaining a Grant of Probate (if required);
  • Collecting income of the estate;
  • Determining any liabilities of the estate and arranging pay out of these debts;
  • Distributing the estate assets including payment of bequests and transfer of assets to beneficiaries; and
  • Attending to accounting and tax requirements for the estate.

If an executor makes any errors that result in litigation or increased tax liability which could erode the value of assets in the estate, there could be serious consequences, not only for the estate, but for the executor personally.

Choosing the right executor is essential, as it requires a combination of trustworthiness, organisational skills, and attention to detail.   You may wish to appoint a family member, close friend, legal or financial advisers or, some people choose to appoint a professional executor.  Regardless of who you choose, your executor needs to be prepared to navigate what can be a complex legal and administrative processes involved in administering an estate to ensure that your wishes are met.

How can Nevett Ford help?

Our Wills and Estates Team work with clients when making their Wills to ensure that they understand the role an executor plays and who would be suitable.  If you are an executor appointed and need to administer a Will, we will also assist and guide your through the administration process.  For more information, you can contact us on 03 9614 7111 or email us at melbourne@nevettford.com.au.