The Role of the Executor in an Estate Matter

The Role of the Executor in an Estate Matter

If you or someone you know is or will become the executor of an estate then you may like to read on. An executor is the person named in a will to carry out the wishes of a person after death. The executor organises the sale of assets, pays any debts and distributes the property in accordance with the terms of the will. The role of executor can be complicated and it may be a good idea to get advice from a lawyer. Fees for this will be payable from (or reimbursed by) the estate.

The executor is responsible for all of the affairs of the estate, from notifying the beneficiaries named in the will of their gifts through to managing all aspects of the administration of the estate. This can require a lot of time and effort as there will likely be a range of tasks to attend to. Initial tasks tend to include dealing with funeral arrangements and banks, as well as securing valuable items of the estate (including any cash). After that, there will likely be a process to obtain a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration) from the Supreme Court, followed by then attending to property valuations, making any preliminary distributions and dealing with various government departments such as the ATO and Centrelink.

Depending upon the complexity of the estate (for example are there businesses or companies or trusts involved?) and the nature of the assets it is comprised of, there may be a number of additional tasks to attend to which will necessitate additional professional assistance such as business advisors or accountants. These may range from establishing formal trusts (for example for minor children who are beneficiaries) through to trying to negotiate share sales and buy-outs and potentially dealing with creditors who are owed money by the deceased or the business interests of the deceased.

Further, an executor must perform their duties responsibly and within a reasonable time (generally, 12 months is regarded as a reasonable amount of time in which to finalise the administration of an estate).

Furthermore, an executor may find themselves in a situation where a beneficiary (or a family member who is not a beneficiary) may challenge the terms of the will pursuant to the Family Provision Act and find themselves (often reluctantly) involved in a court proceeding.

Finally, a common question that arises in estate administration is whether the executor is to get paid. In short, if this detail is not included in the will, the executor does not get paid. The executor is however entitled to claim reasonable costs from the estate funds, for example fees incurred with lawyers and accountants in administering the estate.

If you have read this far and think that you need some practical advice or assistance in relation to your situation, then now is probably the time to get in touch.

Austral Legal can help and we offer an initial discounted 30-minute SmartMove appointment for $80 by phone or in person at our office.

Bookings can be made online through our website or simply by phoning our office on 08 9745 9550.

Once we have a handle on what is required, we may well be able to offer a fixed fee for any further legal services, giving you cost certainty from the start.

Austral Legal. Practical advice.