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What’s an executor and why you need one

22 November 2023

News

What’s an executor and why you need one

When writing your Will, one of the biggest decisions to make is choosing an executor. Your executor manages your estate when you die, putting your last wishes into action. An executor can be a family member, friend, lawyer or other professional, or a trustee company such as State Trustees. Whichever you choose, there are a few things you should consider first.

Property

For example, when dealing with property assets, an executor should consider who has access to that property. As well as whether the property is insured, the policy is up to date and if insurance terms and conditions are being met.

Motor vehicles

Where motor vehicles are concerned, an executor should determine who has the keys, who drives the vehicle, the status of the vehicle’s insurance policy and who’s responsible for costs if there’s an accident.

Reaching out to beneficiaries

An executor acts as a legally appointed representative to protect the assets of a deceased estate until they can be passed on to beneficiaries. This includes those beneficiaries who might reside interstate or overseas. Executors work to mandatory waiting periods for deceased estate administration tasks such as obtaining a Grant of Probate and conveyancing. It is good practice for executors to communicate regularly with beneficiaries to ensure there aren’t any misunderstandings or conflict about the process of deceased estate administration.

What if no Will can be found?

Without a will, the deceased is found to be intestate. This means the estate is distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy. These laws dictate a particular order of payment to the family members of the deceased.

Who can be an executor

Anyone above the age of 18 can act as an executor of your will It can be a family member, friend, lawyer or other professional, or a trustee company such as State Trustees. When choosing an executor, they should be someone you trust who has the skills and time to manage complex legal and financial matters when you’re gone.

Get their approval first

Whoever you choose to appoint as executor, it’s a good idea to let them know before naming them in your will. Once you’ve made the decision, have a chat with them regarding your financial details and let them know where all your important documents and financial information are kept. This will make it a lot easier for the executor to get all your affairs in order later.

An executor can authorise someone else to act for them

A lot can happen between agreeing to be an executor and becoming one.

 

If you’ve been appointed as executor but don’t believe you have the capacity to fulfil the required duties, you can choose to authorise State Trustees to administer the estate on your behalf.

Professional executors could be the better option

While professional qualifications are not required to act as executor, there are complexities that come with a deceased estate which may require professional assistance. Consider choosing a professional executor if you are worried things could turn sour between family and friends after reading your . While this can come at a cost, it can be advantageous to ensure it is dealt with in a professional manner.

 

This approach may also be suitable if you don’t have a close relative or friend to choose as executor. A trustee company such as State Trustees can help in situations that may be complicated or ones that might require long-term administration. Appointing a professional can also help avoid problems if family members are unhappy with the terms or an appointed executor dies. A professional executor’s responsibility is to act objectively in line with your wishes.

 

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. We work with executors and grieving families daily to ensure administration is impartial and in the best interests of all.

 

Click here to learn more about executor assistance from State Trustees.

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Original artwork ‘Four Sisters Coming Together’ by Melissa Bell 2023