What is an executor and what do they do?

An executor is responsible for the administration of an estate and for carrying out the wishes set in the Will. Being an executor can be a complicated job and requires legal and financial understanding to do it successfully. That’s why many people prefer to appoint professionals such as the Public Trustee, rather than leaving the difficult task to their loved ones.

If your executor acts inappropriately or is not administering the estate carefully and prudently, your beneficiaries can complain to the Supreme Court. This is the only right your beneficiaries will have before your estate is distributed. Also, if your executor obtains an estate by fraud or retains an estate, they can be liable to account to your beneficiaries for the assets of your estate.

There are many steps involved in being an executor.

The duties of an executor may include:

  • locating the Will;
  • making funeral arrangements;
  • meeting with family, legal and business associates;
  • determining the beneficiaries;
  • protecting assets such as ensuring property is insured, business interests are protected, collecting valuables and investing funds;
  • determining assets and debts (prepare statement of assets and debts);
  • applying to the Supreme Court for a grant of Probate of the last Will (Probate is a formal document that confirms the executor and gives them permission to administer the estate);
  • collecting assets;
  • making sure all claims and debts are received, assessed and paid if substantiated;
  • distributing assets according to the terms of the Will, including managing longer term trusts;
  • preparing and managing accounts;
  • preparing and lodging taxation returns;
  • defending litigation if there are any disputes.

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