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How do you choose an Executor?

Choosing the right person to be the Executor of your will is important. They will be responsible for making all the decisions regarding your estate and carrying out your final wishes. They should have a good sense of your values and beliefs, as well as skills in organisation and diplomacy in what can be a stressful and emotional time.

When thinking about who to appoint as your Executor, some key questions to consider are:

  • The complexity of your estate and family dynamics
  • The potential for conflict of interest between the executor and the beneficiaries
  • The likelihood of disputes or legal claims over your estate
  • The capabilities of the candidates - do they have the necessary skills, time and maturity to handle this role?

The role of an Executor involves a range of administrative tasks, such as applying for probate, arranging conveyancing or transferring ownership of your property, preparing tax returns and distributing your estate among your beneficiaries. These tasks can be quite time consuming and time-sensitive, so it is imperative that you appoint someone who can manage this responsibility.

Choosing the right person

It is important that the Executor is aligned with or understands the directions stated in your Will. They are not able to make guesses or alter directives if they feel you might have changed your mind (and did not get a chance to update your Will). The Executor may be asked to explain their actions to the Court or Registrar of Probates if they are perceived to be acting outside of the Will or if they have a complaint raised against them.

Anyone with the mental capacity over the age of 18 years old can be appointed as the executor of your estate. As the Executor will need to carry out their duties following your death, it is not recommended that the appointee is much older than you or facing serious illness.

The most common choices are:

  • Spouse, partner or children
  • Friend of the family
  • Professional advisors such as an accountant or solicitor
  • A Trustee company (this will likely involve fees which will be paid out of the estate before the distribution of assets)

How many Executors can you appoint?

It is a good idea to appoint more than one Executor or to have a backup Executor in case they are unable to act. You can appoint up to four Executors (however this is not generally recommended).

Your chosen Executors could be a combination of a family member and an advisor who can navigate the family dynamics and final wishes with a professional understanding of taxation and legal requirements.

When choosing the Executor for your Will it is important to carefully consider the circumstances of your estate and beneficiaries, before selecting the person/s you feel will best carry out your final wishes.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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