What is an Executor?
When someone dies, an Executor is the person appointed by the Will to administer the Estate.
The Executor is required to ensure that the debts are paid and that the assets are obtained and distributed as listed in the Will. If there are more than one Executor, they will need to deal with the administering of the Estate jointly.
Should one of the Executor not wish to fulfil their role as Executor they can choose to renounce.
If someone has named you the Executor, you should contact a solicitor to ensure you are administering the Estate correctly as it is not always straightforward and, as Executor, you can be held liable if you get it wrong.
We often are asked “can an Executor be paid for their services”. The answer is you will only be paid for your time spent as an Executor if the Will specifically says you should be.
That said, you have the right to apply to the Supreme Court of NSW for commission regardless of what the Will says. The Court usually will not award you any payment if you’re also a beneficiary under the Will.
Your first step as executor, you will need to do is to make a list of everything the deceased owned as well as any payments or assets they were entitled to. This list is known as an inventory of property. Common assets included in the inventory of property are:
- Other real Estate
- Bank accounts
- Household appliances
- Shares and other investments
- Insurance policies
- Outstanding work entitlements.
What happens next?
Next step is to contact a Lawyer who can provide advice as to the next steps that need to be taken. This may include a Grant of Probate in the Supreme Court of NSW.
As an Executor of an Estate it is most important due to legislative changes the minimum time to finalise an Estate is six months from the date of death.
This allows time for any claims against the Estate. Before distributing the Estate, the Executor or Administrator may publish a notice of intended distribution and pay the debts of the deceased.
If you as the Executor distribute the Estate before this time you are not protected if claims are made against the Estate, and you may become personally liable for these claims.
Most Estates are finalised within 9–12 months. If there are difficulties locating beneficiaries, income or tax issues, challenges to the Will, or the Estate involves setting up trusts for minors or life interests, the duties of the Executor may longer.
If you have any questions, please contact our friendly Wills and Estates team on 02 4721 6200.
Written by Lyn Clark