How to find an executor when family and friends are ruled out

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YourLifeChoices member Sarah and her husband have no family in Australia and do not wish to ask friends to be executors of their will. They have asked estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich for guidance.


Q. Sarah*
My husband and I have no children and our only living relatives are in the UK. We also do not have friends who we would want to take on the responsibility of being our power of attorney, trustees, executor or whatever, if and when we are no longer fit or if we die. My questions are: how do we organise someone to take on this role? If it has to be a lawyer, how much will that cost? If we leave our estate to charity, will the charity fill this role?


A. Where no family or friends are available, your primary options are to appoint a trustee company or a professional such as a solicitor or accountant to act as executor. 

Most professionals will charge an hourly rate for work done, and no more. You can, however, negotiate in advance whether they receive only an hourly rate for work done, and/or

a commission.

Your arrangement concerning fees should be included in the will.

Most trustee companies will charge a commission based on the gross value of the estate and, crucially, they may engage a solicitor or their staff to do much of the work and charge an hourly rate for the work undertaken.

If you elect to use a trustee company, I recommend you make inquiries about their charges and, importantly, the quality of their service. Some have an excellent reputation, while others have a very poor reputation because of poor service and/or very high fees. 

A charity might be prepared to appoint an executor, but unless it is also qualified to act as an executor under Australian legislation, it would not be able to act in the role itself. You would have to negotiate this with the charity in advance, ensure it has the authorisation to act, or you can appoint an executor, and then ensure the executor provisions in your will are tailored to address your wishes.

*Not her real name

This answer is general information only, not specific legal advice. You should not rely on it without specific advice from an expert who can review all the relevant documents and circumstances.

Rod Cunich is a lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience who specialises in estate planning. If you have a question for Rod, simply email it to [email protected]


Disclaimer: This information has been provided by Rod Cunich and should be considered general in nature – legal advice should be sought.


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