An executor is the legal representative named in a Will who is responsible for administering the estate.

This includes making sure all of the assets are distributed to the people specified in the Will – these people are called ‘beneficiaries’.

What does an executor have to do?

When someone names you as the executor of a Will, you become responsible for their estate and their final wishes.

Being an executor can be complex and confusing – even for someone who might have done it before.

The duties of an executor include:

  • locating the Will
  • applying to the Supreme Court for a grant of probate
  • advising beneficiaries of the contents of the Will
  • collecting and transferring assets to the beneficiaries.
  • ensuring assets are protected and secure
  • keeping proper records of all actions taken in relation to the Will
  • paying any outstanding debts
  • distributing the assets to beneficiaries as per instructions in the Will
  • lodging final tax returns.

If you have been named as executor, there are some steps you can follow.

Choosing an executor

Anybody aged 18 years or older can be an executor. A lot of people appoint a friend or relative.

You must be satisfied that the person you choose will have the knowledge and skills to carry out the administration of your estate.

They must be someone with the capacity to administer complex legal and financial affairs – although they can seek advice and support to carry out their duties.

You might also decide to choose the Public Trustee.

Things to think about

Being an executor can be time consuming, complex and challenging.

Your executor will be taking on a big responsibility at a time when they may be grieving.

It’s also important to consider any conflicts of interest when appointing your executor.

Make sure you talk to those you are thinking about appointing as your executor to make sure they are willing to take on the role.