What is the role of an executor?

An executor is the person appointed by a Will to administer a person’s estate when they die.

The role of an executor is basically to ensure the deceased person’s debts are paid and that their assets are dealt with as is stated in the Will.

The first task for an executor, after tending to any funeral arrangements, is to secure the assets of the estate such as cash and jewellery. The next task is to obtain a grant of Probate.

To apply for Probate, the executor needs to determine what the assets of the estate are (so that your lawyer can prepare an Inventory of the estate property) and what liabilities the deceased person may have. This often involves searching the deceased’s person’s records and liaising with their accountant and financial advisors.

Following that, steps such as making life insurance claims, notifying banks, superannuation funds and checking the insurance status of large assets are taken. Some assets may need to be sold and tax returns may also need to be lodged.

The specific steps that need to be taken will to a large extent depend on the terms of the Will and the deceased person’s assets and liabilities.

Usually an estate is administered within 12 or so months of the date of death however things such as claims for family provision orders under the Succession Act and other matters adding complexity can delay this.

What if the named executor has passed away?

If a named executor has passed away, then depending on whether they obtained probate before their death, either that executor’s executor or any substitute executor named in the Will takes over.

If there is a Will but there is no person named as executor or no named executor or alternate executor that is alive, then Letters of Administration with the Will annexed can be applied for and the Court appoints an administrator (in place of an executor) to administer the estate as set out in the Will.

What if there is no Will?

If a person dies without leaving a Will, they have died intestate and the relevant legislation details how their estate is distributed.


For further information, please contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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