The role of an Executor
The role of an Executor is a very important one, and so it is essential that you appoint the right people for the job.
The Executor's primary role is to carry out your wishes in accordance with your Will, and administer your estate. This can include the following responsibilities, among many others:
- Obtaining your death certificate
- Locating your original Will and testamentary papers
- Applying for Probate (if necessary)
- Paying any outstanding debts or expenses
- Ensuring that your assets go to your desired beneficiaries, and
- Defending challenges (if any) to your Will.
You may see the phrase Executrix - this is the gendered term for an Executor who identifies as a female. More commonly, the term "Executor" is used for all genders. You may also see an Executor referred to as a "Trustee".
Who can be an Executor?
Anyone over the age of 18 years and who is of sound mind is able to be your Executor.
It is often a good idea to appoint multiple Executors. This is particularly helpful where one of your Executors is well versed with the financial and legal side of the administration of your Will, such as contacting banks and paying debts, with the other Executor taking care of the more personal aspects, such as making funeral arrangements and looking after household duties.
Having multiple Executors also proves advantageous in circumstances where an Executor has passed away after you have made your Will, but prior to its administration. It is also advantageous to have multiple Executors in circumstances where one of your Executors is unable or unwilling to take on the role, for whatever reason.
The appointment of an Executor is not binding - anyone who is nominated as an Executor does not need to take up the role, and may step aside or renounce their right to act as an Executor.
It is also possible to appoint a professional, such as a lawyer, accountant, financial advisor or trustee company to be your Executor. They commonly act as Executors for those people who may not have any relatives or other suitable persons to act as Executor. A professional Executor may charge fees for completing the administration of your estate.
The maximum number of Executors in estates in Victoria is four.
Can an Executor be a Beneficiary?
Yes, an Executor of a Will can also be a Beneficiary. In fact, it is very common for an Executor to be a Beneficiary. Most usually, spouses appoint one another as their sole Executor and Beneficiary.
Circumstances may arise, however, which make it best not to appoint an Executor who is also a Beneficiary. For example, where there is the potential for disagreement between family members as to the administration of your Will, it may be best to appoint someone independent to avoid possible conflict between Executors.
If you require a professional Executor or simply need assistance with preparing your Will, please feel free to contact our accredited specialist Wills & Estates team on 1300 205 506 or complete the form below.
The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any legal matters should be discussed specifically with one of our lawyers.
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For further information contact
Mitchell is the Managing Principal of our law practice.
He is an Accredited Specialist in Commercial Law (accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria). He also deals with areas of Employment Law, Wills & Estate Planning and Probate. For further information, contact Mitchell on his direct line (03) 8561 3318.