What does an Executor execute?
We’ve heard about people being Executors of an Estate, but what do they actually execute?
Lawyer Tony Mitchell, an expert in the field at Stacks Law Firm, explains:
“The Executor is the person who you nominate in your Will to be in charge of the administration of your estate after you die. Often, the Executor will be a family member or a trusted advisor.”
But it can be a complicated task and Mr Mitchell advises before appointing someone to be your Executor you should confirm they are prepared to fulfill the role.
Some of the important duties of an Executor include:
Locating your original signed Will, know what it says and ensure it is kept safe.
The Executor makes arrangements for the funeral, either in accordance with your wishes as expressed in the Will or with your family’s wishes. Sometimes the Will is not read until after the funeral so if you have particular wishes concerning your funeral you should let your executor know before you die.
At the appropriate time, the Executor must discuss your Will with your family members, and provide beneficiaries with a copy of your Will.
As soon as possible after your death, your Executor must identify, and take steps to safeguard, the assets of your Estate. For example, insurance policies relating to your assets should be checked to make sure they do not accidently expire, valuables such as jewellery and cash should be collected and motor vehicles secured.
A detailed list of all of your assets and debts should be prepared.
Your Executor may be responsible for obtaining a Grant of Probate (a document issued by the Court which authorises asset holders such as banks to deal with your assets as your Executor directs) of your estate. This will usually be so if your estate includes land or significant bank deposits or share portfolios. A lawyer is usually engaged to assist with this. (For more information please see What is probate, and why do I need it?)
Your Executor must ensure that your debts are paid, and any legacies are paid to those nominated in your Will. (Please see Paying debts from a deceased estate.)
Your Executor must ensure that a tax return to the date of your death, and a tax return for your estate, is lodged with the ATO, and any assessed tax paid.
Finally, your Executor must prepare financial accounts for your estate and attend to distribution of the balance of your Estate to your nominated residuary beneficiaries.
“It’s no small task and there are legal obligations, so if you would like to get advice on any aspect of appointing an Executor it would be wise to consult a person with legal expertise in the field,” Mr Mitchell said.