I have been appointed as an Executor. What do I need to do?

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I have been appointed as an Executor. What do I need to do?

Executor’s Role

An executor is the person who is charged with the role of administering a deceased person’s estate. Sometimes this person is referred to as a legal personal representative or administrator.

The executor has certain obligations to fulfill such as administering the estate as efficiently as possible. This is a reference to both time and cost.

If there is a legal challenge made against the Will or the estate, then the executor is charged with the responsibility of defending the challenge.

An executor also has certain legal rights. They are entitled to claim a commission for their ‘pains and trouble’ in administering the estate. The amount of commission depends on the assets and income of the estate, whether the executor engaged solicitors to act on their behalf and whether there was any difficult circumstances (such as litigation).

The executor’s role can be broken down as follows:

  • organise the funeral
  • call in the estate assets
  • pay the estate debts
  • defend any challenge against the will or estate
  • distribute the estate proceeds to the beneficiaries
  • hold funds on trust for minor beneficiaries until they reach majority

A nominated executor does not need to accept the role. A nominated executor may “renounce” their right to administer the estate. The persons remaining in the Will as executors will then have the right to administer the estate or, if there is no other persons referred to as an executor, then the beneficiary with the largest entitlement under the Will (see Letters of Administration (with the Will) for further information).

Death Certificate

The Death Certificate is an important part of the administration of a deceased estate as it establishes that the deceased person has in fact passed away.

Sometimes an interim Death Certificate is issued in the event that a coroner’s investigation or inquiry is held. The administration of the estate can commence with an interim Death Certificate however some insurance companies will not release funds until the final Death Certificate listing the cause of death has been issued.

If you would like more information regarding your responsibilities as an executor or any other estate matter, please ring our Estates Team on 1300 HATZIS (1300 428 947) or email us at estates@hatzis.com.au.