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Executor of a Will – the Responsibilities Explained

As you probably know, a will is a legal document that details what should be done with someone’s property, money and other assets after their death. You may also be familiar with the term “executor”, which refers to a person (or institution) appointed to carry out the instructions given in a will. But unless you have been personally involved in such a process already, you might not realise all of the responsibilities of an executor of a will. Below, we have explained some of the executor’s key duties to help clarify this very important role.

Applying to the Court for a Grant of Probate

In some circumstances, the executor of a will may need to apply to the court for what is called a grant of probate in order to administer the deceased’s estate, i.e. to be able to access and then distribute their assets as requested.

Identifying the Assets and Liabilities of the Estate

Things can and will change between the drafting of a will and the owner’s passing. For this reason, an executor must determine exactly what their assets were at the time, along with any outstanding debts (loans, wages owed, regular charges, etc.).

Organising Proper Insurance Cover Over Estate Property

A measure of the seriousness of the position of executor is that they can be liable for damages to the assets. Therefore, they must ensure the estate property is covered by insurance, correctly stored, invested where necessary, and so on.

Closing Bank Accounts and Advising Authorities of the Death

Having distributed the deceased’s savings as outlined in their will, the executor will want to close the corresponding accounts since they should no longer be required. They also need to notify all relevant authorities of the death so that records can be updated and admin processes previously involving the deceased person stopped.

Selling or Transferring Realty and Other Property

A will could specify that certain property be sold (and the proceeds divided up, used to pay debts, etc.) – another task to be handled by the executor. Similarly, if the property were designated to be transferred rather than sold, this would be the executor’s job.

Liaising with and Distributing Money and Property to Beneficiaries

Following on from the previous point, the executor is responsible for distributing the deceased’s assets to their named beneficiaries. Of course, this means finding and notifying them of the situation, which is not always a simple matter. The executor provides each beneficiary with details of what has been left to them in the will.

Seeking Further Information or Will Assistance?

Note that the above are only some of the main responsibilities of an executor of a will. For additional legal advice and assistance regarding this or any other area, backed up by decades of experience and professional honours, please contact Dr Craig Jensen Lawyers. You can email craigco@craigjensen.com.au, phone (07) 3711 6722 or fax (07) 3711 6733. Alternatively, you can submit an online enquiry via the form on our website.

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