Executors’ Responsibilities in Estate Management

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The executors of a Will are appointed by the maker of the Will to look after the estate of the deceased person and carry out the directions in the Will. We have some of the most highly regarded Wills and Estates lawyers Sydney has to offer, ready to assist in all your Wills and Probate matters.

Executors of a Will are appointed by the deceased in their Will
(source: HuffPost Life)

The executor’s role varies with the type of estate. However, the role generally includes the following:

  • Collecting and gathering the real and personal estates to administer the estate properly as per the relevant law;
  • Notifying all interested parties including beneficiaries of the Will;
  • Providing a sealed exhibit containing a full list of the inventory held within the estate to the Supreme Court;
  • Preparing and submitting the total costs involved in the administration of the estate to the Supreme Court;
  • Providing the relevant Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration to the Supreme Court;
  • Finalising income tax returns of the deceased and his/her estate; and
  • Taking necessary steps to distribute the estate as per the Last Will and Testament.

There are many reasons for electing an Executor for your Will including;

  • Having one person in charge of following the directives of the Will and the advice of the solicitor overseeing the probate of the Will
  • Choosing someone responsible so that tasks are carried out in a proper and timely manner
  • Selecting someone who is committed to seeing the process of distributing your assets as you directed 
  • Electing someone willing to invest the time necessary for the entire process to be fully completed
  • Reducing any arguing amongst family members regarding disputes that arise over the distribution of your assets 

The advantages of electing an Executor are to have a single person in charge who is willing to follow your directives, be responsible and committed to seeing the process through to the end, and be the point pers

An executor of a will in NSW is responsible for:

  • Organising funeral and/or burial or cremation of the deceased;
  • Locating the original Will and confirming it to the beneficiaries;
  • Keeping the assets safe, such as securing properties and valuables, bank accounts, and paying insurance companies;
  • Lodging taxation returns to the Australian Taxation Office on behalf of the deceased and his/her estate; and
  • Selling properties and distributing assets as per the Will.

The executor of an estate must comply with the various laws and rules governing the administration of the deceased estates.

The responsibilities of an executor are challenging and comprehensive. Some estates are complicated wherein the executor might need to consult a legal practitioner to assist him in finalising the estate.

The executor of a Will is also responsible for preserving estate assets, managing trusts, and making investments on behalf of beneficiaries below 18 years of age.

Executors of a Will and Probate

The distribution of the deceased estate is supervised by both legislative and Common Law authorities and the intention of the deceased is valued the most while distributing the property.

The executor of the estate is usually nominated in the Will of the deceased. Where there is no valid Will, or the person nominated to be the executor is unable to discharge the duties, the Supreme Court can appoint an administrator to deal with the deceased estate.

Rights of Beneficiaries

The beneficiaries have no right or interest in the deceased estate until the executor or the administrator distributes and disposes of the assets and debts of the deceased. The beneficiaries only have the right to sue the executor and the administrator if they fail to administer the estate diligently and correctly. 

If you’re considering contesting a Will, or you’re an executor who is being challenged, contact the helpful team at Owen Hodge Lawyers today.

Grants of Probate

Executors may be asked to prove that they are authorised to administer the Will before the assets can be released and this can be proved with the grant of Probate. To obtain a Probate, the executors of a Will must apply to the respective Probate Office of the Supreme Court. If the application is approved, it proves the authentication of the Will and that the executor is the person authorised to administer the deceased estate.

In situations where administrators are appointed, they need to obtain a Letter of Administration before the estate of the deceased is distributed. If you need to apply for a grant of probate, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our probate lawyers for assistance.

Who Can Be an Executor of a Will?

Anyone you trust and believe will carry out your last wishes exactly as you have delineated in your Will can be the Executor of your Will. Some commonly chosen persons include; Spouse, Adult Child, Sibling, Friend, or Relative.

How to Appoint an Executor for Your Will

Appointing an Executor for your Will should be accomplished by first electing someone you trust and believe will be responsible and committed to carrying out the directives contained in your Will. 

Next, you must have an honest conversation with the person you would like to elect. The Executor’s job is important, time-consuming, and requires the elected individual to carry out their duties with commitment. If the person you have selected and asked agrees to take on the responsibilities of being your Executor, you then must inform your solicitor of your choice and provide the Executor’s name and contact information for the Will.

Common Executor Mistakes

Common mistakes can include the improper management of the following:

  • Payment of liabilities including estate taxes
  • Distribution of assets
  • Incomplete legal paperwork
  • Record keeping about the payment of the estate’s liabilities and the distribution of the assets

Mistakes made by the Executor in any of these areas can cost the estate in both legal fees and penalties assessed against the estate.


Owen Hodge is here to help

Need help appointing an executor of your Will or want to know more about your obligations as an executor? Speak to an Owen Hodge lawyer today.


Wills & Estate Team

Owen Hodge Lawyers has some of the most highly regarded Wills and Estates lawyers Sydney has to offer, ready to assist in all your Wills and Probate matters. After reviewing this information, we look forward to hearing from you to assist you in all of your Will and Estate needs.

Alice Holman

Wills & Estate Planning Lawyer

James Kelly

Wills and Probate Lawyer

Kristy Hatcher

Wills & Estate Litigation Lawyer

Kristy-Lee Burns

Partner, Family and Commercial Lawyer

Louise Young


Frequently asked questions

Yes, executors of a Will must notify any beneficiary. Beneficiaries have a right to know they have been included in a Will.

An executor has 12 months from the date of death to distribute the estate. However, if the executor has been delayed for various reasons, it may take longer.

Executors are legally obligated to follow the deceased’s final wishes in the Will – which includes distributing the estate as per the Will to the beneficiaries.

However, if the estate is insolvent or there are debts/taxes, these need to be paid before the estate can be distributed.

The duties of an executor of a Will can be stressful and numerous, so it can be helpful to appoint two executors.

Ask Our Lawyers Anything

When beginning the process of creating the right Estate Plan, including a Will, most clients have many questions. At Owen Hodge, our team is informed and willing to answer all of your questions and ease your concerns.

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