When you make a will, you appoint an executor. The role of the executor is to deal with your estate after your death. Your estate consists of any money, houses, land, cars, shares, insurance policies, superannuation entitlements, clothes, jewellery and
any other goods owned by you.
The executor performs a number of duties in relation to the deceased. These include:
- attending to funeral arrangements;
- notifying any financial institutions and other relevant organisations of the deceased's death;
- ascertaining the size of the estate and taking control of all assets;
- identifying the beneficiaries and their entitlements;
- obtaining the grant of probate or letters of administration;
- resolving all estate liabilities and disputes. This will include settlement of income tax liability. It can also include waiting for the expiration of the six-month period after the grant of probate in which family claims against the estate can be started;
- distributing assets to beneficiaries either by transfer of ownership or by the sale of assets and distribution of the proceeds;
- investing funds or managing the assets of the estate on behalf of beneficiaries;
- keeping property held in trust for the life of beneficiaries in
- good repair, insured and covered for rates and taxes; and
- acting impartially and in the best interests of all beneficiaries.
If your spouse or another person is to be named as your sole beneficiary in your will, it is often appropriate to name that person as your sole executor. There is nothing to prevent a beneficiary from being an executor. Otherwise you should appoint another adult, a member of your family, a friend or a professional adviser to act as executor. You can also appoint a trustee company as your executor.