Executors have a big responsibility.

They are required to execute the will, that is, do what the will says, including collecting the assets, paying the debts, and distributing the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Some of the main jobs of an executor include:

  • locating the will;
  • assisting and organising the funeral;
  • locating and identifying all assets and debts;
  • obtaining a grant of probate, if required;
  • collecting in the assets;
  • paying debts;
  • assisting the Court in the event of any claims or court proceedings;
  • managing and finalising tax affairs of the deceased and the estate; and
  • distributing the estate.

It is important to remember that an executor is a fiduciary. They are in a fiduciary relationship with the beneficiaries. This means they must do their job with due diligence and care, and in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

For example, executors should preserve, protect and maintain the assets. This includes making sure assets are insured and accruing interest where possible. Executors should not place themselves in a position of a conflict of interest, and must not be dishonest, deliberately avoid attending to his or her duties, or fail to do what a personal representative would objectively be expected to do in their role.

We recommend that executors obtain specialist legal advice to assist them. Reasonable legal expenses are payable from the deceased’s estate.

Lawyers can assist executors by:

  • informing them of their rights and responsibilities;
  • keeping proper records;
  • managing a trust account on behalf of the estate;
  • identifying any issues with the will;
  • obtaining the grant of probate;
  • advising executors how to protect against mistake or risk;
  • advising executors in relation to important deadlines;
  • assisting the executor to deal with and pay debts and distribute the estate;
  • handling any claims or legal proceedings; and
  • drawing up distribution statements.

If you have been named as executor in a will, we welcome you to contact us on 08 8213 1000. We would be glad to help you with your important role.