Estate planning - Being an executor is not for the faint-hearted

When appointing an executor, you can choose a family member, friend or professional trustee company. But, one thing’s for sure — it’s not for the faint-hearted.

What does an executor do?

An executor is the person or organisation responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in your Will. They are responsible for the administration of your entire estate following your death — from identifying and collecting all your assets, to paying your debts, to the ongoing protection and management of your assets — until the administration of your estate is complete.

What are the risks of getting it wrong?

The major risk is that the executor makes an error in the administration of the estate and exposes the estate to a loss. Also, a mistake can cause a delay in how quickly beneficiaries receive their inheritance.

Liability is extensive

An executor is personally liable if it can be shown that they were negligent in carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, relatives that may be unhappy with their treatment in the Will could accuse the executor of some perceived failing.

Locked in

Once a court has granted probate, it’s not easy for an executor to resign from their position. The court will need a good reason for them to do it — simply finding the role too difficult is unlikely to be considered an adequate reason.

Who should you choose?

Deciding who to choose depends on a combination of the complexity of the estate and the ability and experience of the potential executor.

Selecting a professional trustee company to act as your executor, or to provide assistance to your chosen executor through an ‘executor assistance service’, could be a worthwhile choice. They can help you sidestep the potential losses your estate could face
if the executor you selected doesn’t have the required skills, and spare that person some potential stress and concern.

If you need help to appoint an executor or with your estate planning needs contact your Bridges financial planner.

Source: Australian Executor Trustees Limited