An executor of will is the person named in a will to carry out the wishes of the will-maker after they die.
The extent of time, effort, expense and emotional toll associated with being an executor can vary significantly.
The executor is responsible for representing the deceased to finalise their financial, personal and legal affairs. Most executors engage a law firm to assist in the process, from obtaining the grant of probate from the Supreme Court, through to arranging tax returns, interpreting the will and distributions to beneficiaries.
The steps in estate administration are:
- apply for probate
- locate assets
- pay debts
- defend legal actions
- lodge tax returns
- distribute assets
In some instances, an executor is entitled to charge commission for the work undertaken by them. Our expert deceased estate lawyers provide advice to executors in relation to entitlements to executor’s commission.
What power does the executor of a will have?
The executor of a will acts on behalf of the deceased to take care of their affairs and is legally obligated to carry out the requirements set forth in the will. They have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate and cannot act in a way that harms the assets of the estate or the interests of the beneficiaries. Otherwise, they can challenge the actions of the executor in probate court.
Can you remove an executor from a will?
Typically, an executor of will cannot be removed from that position unless there is a compelling reason. The person must be deemed ‘unfit’ to carry out the role of executor due to negligence or misconduct that harms the beneficiaries. This could include:
- unnecessary delay in the administration of the estate or payment to beneficiaries
- failure to communicate with beneficiaries
- failure to account for the assets of the estate
What does the executor of a will get paid?
In many cases, the executor is a close friend or relative of the will maker. They cannot claim payment for their work in this role unless authorised as such. ‘Professional executors’ such as legal practitioners and financial advisors can charge fees, but are more usually paid in the form of commission, expressed as a percentage of the value of the estate.