Looking to choose an executor?
One of your most important decisions to make when writing or updating your will is to work out who should be your executor. Most people when asked will accept the role of executor without completely understanding what it is they are required to do. Sometimes an executor only finds out about their role upon the passing of the will maker. Being an executor comes at a difficult time and it can be daunting, especially for people new to the role.
Understanding the role of an executor
An executor is responsible for managing your assets after you die and distributing them according to your wishes. It is often a time-consuming and demanding role. It can also be emotionally draining, especially if they were close to you.
Who makes a good executor?
Your executor is legally-responsible for following the instructions in your will and has to ensure your estate is protected and managed effectively until your assets are distributed to beneficiaries. Many people name someone in their family, for example, siblings and adult children as an executor. Make sure you ask them if they are willing to take on the role, so they are aware of their responsibilities when the time comes. Although this is often seen as an honour, it can be an onerous and stressful task, especially if there is potential for a family dispute.
You can name more than one person or a professional trustees company to be an executor, which can be useful as they might want to divide the tasks between them when managing your estate. It will be helpful if your executors are organised, good at handling paperwork and able to manage legal issues.
Above all choose a person or organisation you trust to be your executor(s). They are going to be acting on your behalf when the time comes, so you need to be assured the executor(s) you choose have the skills and expertise to focus on getting the best outcome for your beneficiaries.
Tasks of an executor
Simply put, your executor makes sure your estate is dealt with according to your wishes. This can be quite complicated, even with the most straightforward estates. Your executor will need to:
- identify all your assets and liabilities
- apply for probate
- prepare tax returns for you and your estate
- defend your estate from any legal claims
- mediate and resolve any disputes between beneficiaries
- distribute the proceeds of your estate.
Being an executor can be overwhelming and it is understandable for people to feel lost as to where to start. State Trustees administers more deceased estates than any other organisation in Victoria. Our expert team understands all the aspects, and challenges, of deceased estate management and work with executors and grieving families daily to ensure administration is impartial and in the best interests of all.