Published 09 Jun 2015
Author: David Cossalter
Appointing an executor is something that needs to be done when writing a will. Failing to determine who will be responsible for distributing assets and finalising your estate could create a wide range of problems, including inheritance disputes.
However, the duties of an executor are very specific, which is why you can't afford to take the decision lightly. Understanding exactly what is going to be expected of them when you pass away is crucial if you are going to select the right person.
What is an executor?
Executor is the term used to describe a person who will ensure your wishes are met after you die. They will collect any assets that you have and make sure any debts are repaid.
It is also their job to value your estate. This will be a crucial part of the probate process, as failing to carry it out properly can lead your will to be contested.
Other financial duties the executor must perform include assessing whether any capital gains tax will need to be paid. Income tax returns will need to be completed on your behalf and filed with the Australian Tax Office.
If you run a business, it's also important to bear in mind that your executor will be tasked with ensuring all its interests are met as well.
An executor needs to be familiar with the contents of your will. It is worthwhile discussing them in person, just in case there is any ambiguity that might need to be addressed.
How should you choose an executor?
There are several key traits that make a good executor, so it's important you think carefully about the person you select. Ideally, they need to be a close friend or relative who will deal with your wishes as laid out in your will - and who you can trust to get the job done properly.
It's a good idea to appoint an executor who you are unlikely to lose touch with. A lack of contact can make the process more difficult, and they are less likely to be able to meet your needs in the way you would have hoped.
Some people select an executor who doesn't stand to benefit from their will, but this isn't always the case. There is no right or wrong choice, just whoever you think would take the job seriously and complete it on time.