Duties and powers of executors

by Jacqui Brauman

An executor is the person appointed in a Will to administer the estate after the Will-maker dies. The executor is also known as the “legal personal representative”, and their role converts to the trustee of the estate, particularly if any of the estate is to be held back for a beneficiary to come of age.

Most executors engage a solicitor to help them through the process, and we certainly do this work for executors, making their role as easy as possible.

duties and powers of executors

Duties of Executors and Trustees

The main duties of executors are:

  • make funeral arrangements
  • identify and collect all the assets
  • protect your assets (eg. insure them)
  • attend to legal formalities
  • arrange and prepare income tax returns
  • deal with any claims against the estate
  • pay all the debts
  • distribute the estate in accordance with the Will, and
  • where trusts are established in the Will, continue the management and administration of those trusts.

Powers of Executors and Trustees

Some powers are given to the executor or trustee under State legislation. Other powers must be given by the Will. These powers can all be modified in the Will to reflect the Will-maker’s wishes. Some key powers that need to be thought about include:

  • investment powers – what assets would you want your trustee to be able to sell and invest in?
  • powers to advance money to minor beneficiaries – it is often important to people making their Will that their children’s education is paid for out of their inheritance if they are minors. Do you want this to happen, and do you have any conditions to place on this?
  • lending – do you want to give your trustee the power to lend money to beneficiaries?
  • use of estate property – is it possible for beneficiaries to make use of assets owned by the estate, such as a holiday home?

If you are an executor, and you engage our services, we will give you a checklist about what you should be doing, and then what we will attend to on your behalf.

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