Choosing an executor is difficult and one of the most important decisions you will need to make when making a will.
To put it simply, the role of an executor is to make funeral arrangements, obtain probate, collect in your assets, pay your debts and then distribute the estate to your beneficiaries. Sounds simple right? Sometimes but, as lawyers like to say, ‘it depends’.
The role of an executor can be onerous, and an executor is expected to act quickly and fairly. Executors are also often required to assume other roles, for example, to act as director of a company, trustee of a family trust or superannuation fund.
It is important that you appoint someone you trust to carry out your wishes, who will be able to lead the process and efficiently attend to the administration of your estate. It is also wise to appoint someone who will get along with your beneficiaries as they will need to communicate with them well to successfully administer your estate.
If you want to appoint more than one executor, you should consider whether they will be able to cooperate with one another. If executors don’t get along, it is likely the estate administration will be delayed, and further costs will be incurred by your estate.
In Queensland you can have up to four executors, however, that’s a lot of potential competing views which could delay the estate administration. You can appoint backup executors in the event your first executors die before you or are unable to act.
Executors can be relatives or friends who are over 18 years of age. Executors can be beneficiaries named in your will. In deciding who to appoint, you should think about their age and the likelihood of them outliving you. If they are unlikely to outlive you, you should have a backup executor.
Executors can also be professionals such as a lawyer or a trustee company. However, lawyers and trustee companies charge for their services whereas family and friends usually act without payment and have a better understanding of your family.
If your executors are relatives or friends, part of their job might be to engage professionals such as lawyers and accountants to help them with the estate administration. These professionals will be paid out of your estate. Your executor can choose to engage professionals for specific tasks and do other tasks themselves, saving your estate money.
We recommend that you speak with your proposed executor/s before deciding to appoint them in your will to make sure they are willing and able to take on the job. Executors will also need to know where your will is stored in the event of your death.
If you’re unsure about who to appoint as your executor, having a chat to an experienced wills and estate lawyer might help you to make that decision. Book a Free Chat to get started on your estate planning or call us on 07 3174 5730.