Can executors also be beneficiaries of Wills?

Published 18 Jan 2019

Author: Garbis Kolokossian

It's quite common in New South Wales for a beneficiary of a Will to also be named executor of the estate. The two roles are not exclusive.

For example, a person can name his or her spouse as the executor, and that person could still receive the whole of the estate as the first in line in the distribution hierarchy.

So what does an executor have to do, and what considerations should you take when naming one?

Tasks of an executor

First and foremost, the executor needs to locate the Will and make sure it's valid. This is done by applying for a grant of probate from the Supreme Court of New South Wales, which authorises this person to manage the estate. Then, the executor is responsible for the following duties:

  • Making funeral arrangements and figuring out immediate needs of the family.
  • Meeting with family members.
  • Organising the estate and gathering asset information, including superannuation, property or personal possessions.
  • Paying off outstanding debts.
  • Overseeing the distribution of the estate to beneficiaries.
  • Establishing trusts, if applicable.
  • Managing the estate and trust accounts after distributions have been made, if necessary.

Depending on the size of the estate, this process can be time consuming and continue long after the bulk of the estate has been sorted and distributed.

Considerations for naming an executor

Keep in mind when you're creating your Will - your close loved ones will be grieving when you pass away, so the added appointment of an executor from the family could make things more difficult. However, it's not always a bad idea to name someone close to you, especially if you've discussed it with them in advance.

You may want to consider naming a person who has legal or financial experience, since they'll be dealing with probate court and cash accounts. You can even name more than one executor in your Will if, for instance, your partner would like to handle the personal details and funeral arrangements, but a colleague would be better suited to manage the financial aspects.

You're required to choose someone who is over 18 years of age and who is of sound mind to carry out the directions in your Will in a reasonable manner.

Also remember that other family members may come forward to contest your Will, so the executor needs to be someone who can manage conflict and uphold your wishes.

If you have more questions about naming an executor or making a family provision claim to a Will, contact us. Our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers can help you throughout the legal process.

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