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Who should I appoint as my executor?

Updated: Jun 4

Written by Laura Pavia

Edited by Gabriella Ferraro


What is an executor?


An executor is the person you choose to take care of your estate after you have passed away.


Our clients will sometimes have difficulty appointing an executor for a multitude of reasons. This article will:

  • provide details on the responsibilities of an executor;

  • explain why it is important to choose the right person; and

  • discuss what happens if you pass away without appointing an executor under your Will.


Your executor will be responsible for administering the estate in accordance with the terms stated in your Will but your executor will also have the ability to take or defend any legal action on behalf of the estate. Some other responsibilities of your executor may include:


  1. collecting the assets of the estate;

  2. determining ant debts owed by the deceased and arranging for payment of those liabilities; and

  3. organising the funeral of the deceased.


Given the significant duties imposed on an executor, it is important that you choose the right person.


How many executors can be appointed?


Up to four executors can be appointed under a Will. It is important to consider that each executor must work together in decision making and must act jointly in various practices and therefore, it is helpful if your executors are at least civil with each other.


For example, whilst you may want to include all your children as executors for equality, it is not a good idea to appoint your children if they are constantly arguing with each other. This can lead to increased legal costs, significant delay and considerable stress on the parties involved at an already difficult time.


Some peace of mind - your executor must act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries of the Will. Your executor cannot act in their own interests if those interests do not align with those of the estate and beneficiaries.


Who should be appointed as an executor?


Your executor should be someone -


  1. you can trust;

  2. who lives close by and can be on hand to sign important documents on behalf of the estate;

  3. that knows details about your assets and the structure so as to easily identify your estate for application purposes.


What happens if you do not appoint an Executor?


If you fail to appoint an executor, the court will usually appoint someone to administer the estate. A person appointed by the court is referred to as an administrator. The administrator has the same responsibilities as an executor. Typically, the administrator will be the beneficiary that is to receive the largest portion of the estate.


The information provided in this article is general advice only. Given that each situation is unique, we recommend that you contact our office if you are considering preparing your Will. You can contact a member of our estates team on (03) 9311 8911.

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