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The Duties of an Executor of a Will Explained

The executor of a will – or the executor of an estate – is responsible for carrying out the wishes of a deceased individual; the title carries a great deal of responsibility. Before distributing the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries, the executor is expected to ensure that all required matters are in order so that no one can dispute the executor’s actions. Here, we will go through what an executor is responsible for should they accept this role.

What is an executor of a will?

An executor of a will is the person who is legally responsible for carrying out the conditions of someone else’s will. This could involve dispersing their property, paying obligations and taxes or filing tax returns on their behalf. Executors are not required to accept this duty but most individuals do because it is part of honouring the desires of a dying person. 

What does an executor of a will do?

The executor’s first responsibility is to notify the beneficiaries of a deceased relative. They must also notify all creditors and other interested parties, such as a spouse or children from a prior marriage, of the circumstances. This assures that there are no later disputes over who receives what assets. The executor can then begin dealing with estate property.

The executor is in charge of assessing the property. This can include cars, antiques and even pets. The executor must ensure that all assets are properly recorded so that they can be transferred to beneficiaries in line with a will or by law if there is no will. They must also pay taxes on any income received during the deceased’s lifetime that has not yet been taxed before distributing it equally among interested parties.

Executor of will duties can include:

  • getting probate from the Supreme Court of Queensland, if required
  • finding and notifying beneficiaries (people named in the will who receive something from the estate)
  • checking and protecting assets
  • confirming insurance of assets
  • collecting valuables and income
  • determining debts and liabilities
  • preparing tax returns and getting income tax clearances
  • transferring or sales of assets
  • preparing financial statements
  • distributing the estate.

An executor may be assigned additional duties in addition to those listed above; these will vary based on the circumstances of each case.

Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary?

An executor can be a beneficiary. However, executors are required by law to operate in the best interests of all beneficiaries. Any transactions involving estate property that could result in a personal gain for the executor must be disclosed and approved by interested parties or a court.

As you can see, there are many responsibilities associated with being an executor of a will. Anyone who accepts this task must understand what they need to do before taking on the role. Some people may not feel comfortable carrying out these responsibilities, however, someone else can step in if necessary!

Dr Craig Jensen specialises in legal proceedings regarding Wills and Estates. He has been practising as a legal practitioner, as both a Barrister and a Solicitor since 1975, currently providing his services through his independent Brisbane based law firm. Whether you’re contesting a Will, appointed as executor of a will or drafting a Will, contact Dr Craig Jensen today to discuss your situation and secure the best outcome.

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