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What does an executor do?

When someone writes their will, they have to choose an executor. The executor is then responsible for making sure the person’s final wishes are carried out after they die.

The executor’s role begins as soon as the person has passed away.

I have been appointed as an executor in a will, now what?

As the executor, it’s now your responsibility to administer the person’s estate. The estate includes all the person’s assets and liabilities. Their assets are their property and belongings that have value, such as a house, car, shares and investments. Their liabilities consist of any money they may owe, such as a mortgage or a loan.

Your first job is to find the person’s original will and arrange the funeral.

Some of the other tasks that the executor usually needs to do include:

  • applying for a death certificate
  • applying for a grant of probate
  • finding and contacting the beneficiaries (people who are left something in the person’s will), including anyone interstate or overseas
  • protecting the person’s assets. You need to make sure the assets are safe so that they can be given out as the person wanted them to be. This might include taking out insurance or making an inventory
  • providing death notifications to the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink and banks
  • paying any outstanding bills and debts from estate funds and arranging to have assets valued
  • defending the estate against legal action
  • resolving disputes between beneficiaries
  • lodging tax returns if needed
  • claiming life insurance and superannuation
  • setting up trusts and administering them, if that is part of the instructions in the will. A trust might be set up to look after and protect assets for a child until they reach a certain age
  • dealing with any real estate that is part of the estate, including getting the property ready for sale
  • distributing assets according to what is in the will
  • providing a full accounting of your administration of the estate to beneficiaries.

You can choose to administer the estate yourself or ask a trustee company, like us, to administer the estate for you.

Executor checklist

To find out more, our executor checklist has:

  • an outline of an executor’s roles and legal responsibilities
  • a checklist of the different tasks an executor needs to do to administer an estate
  • information about how to apply for a grant of probate.

Download the checklist

How we can help

We are experts in all aspects of estate administration. Through our Executor Services, we can manage the estate for you, or we can support you in your role as executor.

If you have any questions about being an executor or you need some help on how to handle an estate, we can help.

Please fill out the form below and one of our team members will contact you.

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