Executor of your Will

An executor is the person appointed by someone’s Will to administer their estate after they pass away.

An executor can be required to manage almost anything in relation to an estate, but their most common obligations include:

  1. applying to the court for a grant of probate;
  2. collecting all of the assets owned by the deceased;
  3. paying any debts owed by the deceased;
  4. arranging for final tax returns to be lodged;
  5. distributing the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will;
  6. representing the estate in any legal proceedings which the estate may need to defend or commence; and
  7. acting as trustee to manage the inheritance of any beneficiaries who are under the age of inheritance.

The role of executor is very important.  It is important to choose someone who is:

  • good with paperwork and red tape
  • organised
  • reliable and trustworthy
  • over the age of 18

It is also important to speak to the person or persons you are considering nominating as executor to make sure they are willing to undertake the task.  Your choice will be wasted if, when your Will comes to be used, your chosen executor refuses to act (and their refusal will likely cause delay and cost to the administration process).

Could there be any dispute or conflict in relation to you estate?  If so, it is best to choose an executor who will be able to remain neutral, so they are more likely to represent the estate effectively and in accordance with your Will.  Most importantly, you should avoid appointing an executor who may challenge your Will – they cannot administer the estate and uphold your Will if they are also challenging your Will.

Your Will can nominate as many executors as you wish.  However, as a matter of practicality, too many executors may slow the decision-making process and thus the administration of the estate.  You may also want to consider what is to happen if your executors do not agree on the correct course of action – do they have to act unanimously or can the majority decide?  What if they are evenly split?

Many people choose friends or family to be executors.  However you can also choose a professional person (such as your accountant or lawyer) to be your executor.  Choosing a professional is a good choice when there is likely to be a dispute over your Will, or if there is no one close to you who you think is suited to the role.

If your nominated executors cannot (or refuse) to undertake the role, the law allows for other persons who are “interested” in the administration of your estate to apply to the Supreme Court of WA for a grant of probate.


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist legal advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. For more specific Legal Advice please contact us.


photo credit: Ken_Mayer via photopin cc

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