Appointing an executor

Financial Advice


Appointing an executor

One of the most important decisions you can make as part of your estate planning strategy is the appointment of your executor.

The executor is the person (or persons) appointed to manage and distribute the assets of your estate in accordance with the terms of your Will.

This includes the following tasks:

  • Applying for a death certificate;
  • Applying for a grant of probate, which is a legal document that confirms the executor's authority to administer the estate;
  • Identifying and locating the assets of the deceased, including property, investments, and personal belongings;
  • Collecting and managing the assets of the estate, including claiming any life insurance or superannuation, selling or transferring property, liquidating investments, and paying any ongoing expenses;
  • Paying off any debts or liabilities of the deceased using the assets of the estate;
  • Distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will, including the establishment of any testamentary trusts;
  • Filing tax returns and paying any taxes owed by the estate;
  • Keeping accurate records of all transactions related to the estate;
  • Communicating with beneficiaries and other parties involved in the administration of the estate.

The executor has important duties and obligations to act in the best interests of the estate and your beneficiaries. If your executor fails to meet those duties, they may be held liable for any losses caused by their actions or omissions.

Choosing an executor

There are several factors to consider when deciding who will act as your executor.


The executor will be responsible for managing the assets of the deceased and distributing them according to the will, so it is important to choose someone who is trustworthy and responsible.

Familiarity with the deceased's assets

The executor should have a good understanding of the deceased's assets, including property, investments, and debts, to ensure that they are managed and distributed correctly.


The executor should be available to carry out the duties of the role, including attending to the administration of the estate, dealing with beneficiaries, and communicating with other parties.


If the estate is complex, it may be necessary to choose an executor with legal or financial expertise to ensure that the estate is administered correctly.

Personal preference

Ultimately, the person who makes the will may have a personal preference for who they would like to serve as executor.

You can appoint more than one executor. Where you appoint multiple executors, you should consider how well those executors might be able to communicate and work together.

It is also important to choose a back-up executor in case the primary executor is unable to fulfill their duties.

Family members, close friends or trusted advisors are often candidates for the role of executor. We also recommend discussing the appointment with any potential candidates for executor, to ensure they are aware of their appointment and comfortable undertaking the role.

Appointing a professional executor

An option that many people are not aware of is the ability to appoint an independent professional executor, such as an accountant or solicitor. A professional executor can bring important expertise and knowledge to the administration of your estate and can make objective and impartial decisions.

Professional executors are commonly appointed where an estate is complex and would benefit from technical expertise, or where there is likely to be friction amongst family members. However, the right professional can bring significant benefit to the administration of any estate.

If you are considering appointing a professional, you should be aware that a professional person who is appointed executor will often only accept the role if they are able to charge fees for the work they carry out. You must give explicit permission for this to happen, both through your Will and by signing an appropriate authority prior to signing your Will. This is different from the appointment of a professional trustee company, as these companies will often seek a percentage of the estate. Instead, a professional should simply be authorised to charge reasonable fees for the work they carry out.

Partners Legal Solutions can assist

The team at Partners Legal Solutions can provide advice and assistance in selecting the right executor for your estate.

If you would like to learn more about the role of an executor, call us on #number or email us at