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)

An executor is a person who stands in the shoes of the deceased and administers the estate. 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 full list of the inventory held within the estate to the Supreme Court;
  • Preparing and submitting the total costs involved in 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 of his/her estate; and
  • Taking necessary steps to distribute the estate as per the Last Will and Testament.

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.

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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.

Learn more: Wills and probate: the official proving of a Will

Beneficiaries

The beneficiaries have no right or interest in the deceased estate until the executor or the administrator distributes and disposes off 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 that is being challenged, contact the helpful team at Owen Hodge Lawyers today.)

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Grant 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.

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If you have any queries, or you’re ready to begin your estate planning, feel free to seek legal advice Owen Hodge Lawyers.

Do executors have to inform beneficiaries?

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

How long does an executor have to distribute 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.

Can an executor withhold money from a beneficiary?

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.

Is it better to have one or two executors of a Will?

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

Further information on Wills:

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