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What are an Executor’s duties?

What are an Executor’s duties?

When a loved one or close friend passes away it can be overwhelming.  It can also be more difficult if you’ve been nominated as executor of the deceased person’s will.

It’s not an everyday role, and so most people don’t have any experience acting as executor – and not knowing or understanding your role can certainly increase anxieties about what you should (or shouldn’t) be doing.  This guide provides a brief summary of some of the critical aspects of an executor.

Executor’s duties and requirements are set out in Queensland’s Succession Act 1981.  In summary, an executor’s duty is to:

  1. Organise a funeral for the deceased person, including making arrangements for burial or cremation of the deceased person.
  2. Locating the original will of the deceased person.
  3. Locating and notifying beneficiaries of their interest in the estate – generally this is done simply by providing the beneficiaries with a copy of the will.
  4. If required, obtaining a grant of probate of the will.
  5. Collecting the assets of the estate, and protecting those assets (e.g. ensuring properties are insured).
  6. Payment of debts and liabilities of the deceased person and their estate (which may include completing tax return/s for the deceased person and on behalf of the estate).
  7. Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

However, a lot of the above matters can be addressed informally.  For example, whilst an executor must ensure the burial or cremation of the deceased person, it is often close family members who organise these matters, as opposed to the executor taking sole responsibility for the matter.

As would be apparent from the above, it is important for willmakers to ensure that their executor is aware of their appointment as executor, as well as where the original will is located – so that the executor knows of their appointment and can make the necessary arrangements at the appropriate time.  Although many people do so, a willmaker does not need to provide a copy of the will to the executor, it is sufficient to simply notify the executor where they can obtain/locate the will at the relevant time.

The role of an executor can be daunting, as it is unfamiliar and comes at a time of difficulty and grief.  The team at O’Connor Ruddy & Garrett Solicitors regularly assist in the administration of estates, whether it be simple and straightforward, or complex and apparently overwhelming.

Please contact us for a brief telephone discussion to see how we can assist you through this difficult process, and relieve you of some of the anxiety and pressure of being appointed as executor, and to ensure the correct and proper administration of the estate in an appropriate and timely manner.

Our lawyers are also experienced in addressing pending litigation concerning an estate, so if you’re on notice that someone may contest the will, please contact us for advice on how to deal with that litigation, and its implications for the administration of the estate.

Article by Thomas Ashton – Associate

This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising from this publication, please let us know.

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