What is an Executor?

Are you an executor of someone’s will?

If you are an executor named in someone’s Will it means that the person who has died wants you to look after his or her estate and to make sure that the Will is carried out according to its terms.  Sometimes, more than one executor is named.  In such case, you must work together to carry out the deceased’s wishes.

Is an executor paid?

Whilst you are entitled to apply to the Supreme Court for a commission for your work as executor, in most cases commissions are not claimed.  More importantly, if you are named as a beneficiary in the Will (you have been left some money or some other gift) then it is less likely that any claim for commission by you would be successful.

Do I have to be an executor?

You do not have to act as an executor if you do not wish to.  You may consult your solicitors to “renounce” your role and you are thereafter released from further participation.

What is an executor’s job?

An executor must make sure that all of the deceased’s assets and other property are both cared and accounted for.  This means that you must instruct a solicitor as to all of the assets of the estate as well as any liabilities of the estate.  You must make sure that all debts are paid and thereafter you must make sure that the assets of the estate are distributed to the beneficiaries as directed in the Will.

Sometimes, it is necessary to apply for Probate.  This is necessary whenever real estate is being dealt with or in cases where there are large sums of money or substantial investments and shareholdings.  Your solicitor can help you with an application for probate.  The application does involve filing documents with the Supreme Court.  The Court checks to make sure that everything is correct and once probate is granted, for all intents and purposes, you stand in the shoes of the deceased person.

Sometimes, in the case of very small estates, it is not necessary to apply for probate and the estate may be distributed to beneficiaries with a minimum of fuss and expense.

When does my job start?

Your role as the executor only starts after the deceased has died.

In most cases you will know that you have been appointed as an executor and you will generally consult the solicitor who holds the Will.  That solicitor will advise you on what you need to do in order to bring in all of the assets of the estate, to pay debts and thereafter to distribute those assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will.  This may involve a number of visits to the solicitor for the purpose of approving and signing documents and the whole process can commonly take a minimum of three months and anything up to a year.

You are not meant to spend your own money with respect to the estate and in the event that you do expend any moneys (for example, in organising a wake or a funeral) then you are entitled to be reimbursed from the estate.  It is important for you to make sure that the estate is able to reimburse you before you spend money on behalf of it.

Why have I been appointed?

An executor is usually appointed by a deceased person because the deceased feels that the executor is a reliable and honest person.  In many cases, the executor may be a spouse or child of the deceased person and also, in a lot of cases, the executor may be a sibling or close friend of the deceased.

Being an executor is a very important job particularly for the family of the deceased person.  It is not always a pleasant job but it is one which must be done for the benefit of the deceased’s loved ones and friends.

elringtons can assist you with all aspects of your role as an appointed executor, and we have an experienced team of probate and estate lawyers and paralegals to guide you.

For more information, call 6206 1300 to speak to one of our experienced Wills and Estates team members.