What Do I Need to Think About as an Executor and Trustee of a Will?

Duties of an executor of a will include distributing assets such as bank accounts and property.

An executor and trustee are responsible for managing the estate of a deceased person (known as the administration of an estate).

The specific duties of an executor and trustee can vary depending on the estate, but some common tasks include:

  • Obtaining the Will: The executor and trustee will require the original Will upon the death of the Will maker. It is therefore important for any executor and trustee to keep informed as to the whereabouts of the original Will prior to the death of the Will maker.
  • Obtaining the death certificate: The executor and trustee should obtain the original death certificate of the deceased.
  • Finding and securing the assets: The executor should locate all the assets of the deceased, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, superannuation member accounts, and other items of value. These assets should be secured and protected from damage or theft.
  • Applying for a Grant of Probate of the Will: There are instances when an executor and trustee may not require a Grant of Probate, but generally, the executor and trustee will need to apply to the Supreme Court to obtain a Grant of Probate of the Will before following the instructions contained within it.
  • Paying debts and taxes: The executor and trustee are responsible for paying off any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased person or the estate.
  • Distributing assets: Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor and trustee must distribute the remaining net assets of the estate according to the instructions in the Will, or according to the relevant laws of intestacy if there is no Will.
  • Keeping accurate records: The executor and trustee must keep accurate records of all financial transactions related to the estate, including income, expenses, and distributions. These accounts can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
  • Communicating with beneficiaries: The executor and trustee should keep the beneficiaries informed of the progress of the estate administration and answer any questions they may have from time to time as the administration is on foot.

Overall, an executor and trustee owes a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries and needs to act in good faith, act with diligence, and in accordance with law and the wishes of the deceased person as expressed in their Will.

Further Reading:

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All information on this site is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced legal team for specific advice relevant to your situation.