Who will be my executor?

Being an executor is not a task for the faint-hearted. So, how do you choose the right person to manage your affairs?

When preparing a will, choosing the right executor is an important decision. They have the responsibility of applying for probate and then administering and distributing your estate. The ideal executor will have time, an eye for detail, the skills of a diplomat and the stamina of a long distance runner.

Being an executor is not a task for the faint hearted. Ask anyone who has lived through it and they’ll tell you that the duties can be difficult, stressful and time consuming.

Any person with mental capacity over the age of 18 years can be appointed as an executor. Children can also be appointed as executors, but they are unable to act until they are 18 years of age. Beneficiaries can also be appointed but remember, they have to be available when the time comes, so avoid appointing elderly people or those who live far away.

When considering potential executors it is critical to choose someone who is capable and trustworthy. Who you choose will depend on:

  • The complexity your financial and family affairs
  • The skills of the potential candidates
  • The likelihood the executor will have to deal with disputes over the estate
  • The likelihood that the executor will have a conflict of interest because they are a beneficiary and also manage the estate, or others in the family perceive favouritism.


The most common choices are:

  • wife, husband, partner or children
  • professional adviser, usually a solicitor or accountant
  • friend of the family, often a solicitor, accountant or business person
  • trustee company.


It is preferable to have more than one executor, and/or have a backup executor in case one executor dies or is unable to act. Alternatively, you can nominate a firm of lawyers or a trustee company, but it is important that you enquire about their fees and charges beforehand.





    COMMENTS

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    Sen.Cit.90
    23rd Dec 2015
    9:56am
    I've had good reports of the Qld Public Trustees. At least, their 'Will' making is free (initial saving) and their costs are lower than the most Solicitors.
    Pudding
    23rd Dec 2015
    10:39am
    Their Will Making is free but their charges are way over the top. It can take much longer to have the Will done through the Public Trustee as well. I would not have them do anything for me.
    PlanB
    23rd Dec 2015
    10:53am
    LOL yes their will making might be free but they will take a very GOOD % of your estate, look after your self and your and pay to get a will done by a proper Solicitor

    23rd Dec 2015
    11:23am
    If I knew what I now know, I would never have agreed to my mother naming me executor in her will. I would have advised her to name a solicitor or trusted friend. I understand her motives, but I find myself now in a difficult position. I'm legally obliged to defend her wishes as stated in the will, and I believe she was right and fair in the way she made it, but others who don't know what I know will see it differently. As I'm the major beneficiary (although it's only a very small estate) others will think I'm acting in my own personal interests rather than ensuring her wishes are fulfilled.

    Please think carefully before naming a significant beneficiary as executor and consider the risk that in carrying out their legal and moral duties, they may be seen by others to be acting improperly in their own self-interest.
    PlanB
    23rd Dec 2015
    11:33am
    Rainey, when I made out my Will, I made my Son Executor but I asked IF he would be able to pass it ton to a Solicitor to do it if he wished.
    Anonymous
    23rd Dec 2015
    12:23pm
    Rainey, if your mother's wishes are stated in writing that everyone can see, no matter how strange they may appear, how can they then say you are acting in your own interest. Just be prepared, there's no love lost between siblings and relatives when it comes to wills.
    Anonymous
    23rd Dec 2015
    12:26pm
    PlanB, I believe that the law in NSW allows any executor/executrix to decline the position providing that they have not had any dealings with the estate.
    PlanB
    23rd Dec 2015
    2:10pm
    Old Man -- can you please explain what you meant by dealing with the state> Thanks
    Anonymous
    23rd Dec 2015
    3:00pm
    Dealing with the estate means that the executor does not touch anything to do with the will or any of the duties of an executor.
    Squeak54
    24th Dec 2015
    1:27pm
    My Mother named me and my cousin's husband as executors and when the time came I handed it all over to a solicitor. Best decision ever. Before that it would have been handled through the Public Trustee. When I queried why the change I was told because the Public Trustee's charges were outrageous.

    23rd Dec 2015
    12:21pm
    Add in another attribute; "the hide of a rhinoceros'. Nothing is more sickening that some families who fight over an estate and the executor/executrix cops the blame when he or she is following the last wishes of the deceased as well as the law. On a positive note, most families accept without question what is bequeathed.
    Nan Norma
    23rd Dec 2015
    12:32pm
    I have had dealings with the Public Trustee, executor, and a solicitor and have also been an executor myself.. Has an executor I had no problems. There was only one married couple beneficiaries beside myself. They were left a house. When my mother died her executor died one day after he took up his appointment. We then had to find HIS executor to take over. Yes, that is the law. When the second executor declined we put the will in the hands of my mother's solicitor to avoid a family dispute. The 'friend of the family" solicitor then then charged each one of us (total $6000) for administering one very simple will. So tell me who do YOU trust. In the end maybe the Public Trustee might be the best. I don't know.
    Anonymous
    23rd Dec 2015
    1:03pm
    Not to top your story Nan Norma but a distant relation had her brother as sole executor and when she died, he was living England. He charged the estate for his expenses which included first class air fares for him and his wife, accommodation in Australia, car hire and meals. The estate was a little over $40,000 which all went in executor's fees.
    Nan Norma
    23rd Dec 2015
    1:46pm
    Old man. Even wills are not safe. I had a friend who told me she had left her house and money to be shared between her five nieces and nephews. One of the nephews held Power of Attorney and was also executor. By the time my friend died he had arranged everything for his own benefit. His siblings got nothing. My friend trusted him because he was her nephew.
    Anonymous
    23rd Dec 2015
    3:02pm
    Yes Nan Norma, it seems greed takes over with some people and, sadly, some of these people only show their nasty side when people least expect it.
    Pamiea
    23rd Dec 2015
    12:43pm
    It would depend on the complexity of ones affairs as to who you should appoint. If its complex then perhaps a solicitor or accountant (who will charge like wounded bulls) but if your affairs are reasonably straight forward ie a house and bank accounts and maybe a super account then provided there is sufficient paperwork left to trace everything then a trusted friend (or friends) will suffice. Your executors, by law, are required to account to beneficiaries by showing paperwork as to how the bequeaths are arrived at.

    23rd Dec 2015
    1:58pm
    With all the stories lately re children doing the wrong thing by their aged parents, I would be reluctant to name a relative to look after me in my old age. I have step children and I honestly could not say 100% that they would do the right thing; hence I will have to make some other arrangement if my husband passes on before I do
    Journie
    23rd Dec 2015
    2:36pm
    I have had my will drawn up with the Public Trustee. If your will is simple, its the best way to go. Solicitors charge twice as much as they do. Mine will was done whilst I waited. I have no problem trusting them.
    ginger tea
    23rd Dec 2015
    4:32pm
    My husband being the youngest of five did not get a look in when his father died. All is under his eldest brother to sort out.He did not meet with his sibblings to finalise a?l estates.my husband has to wrangled a share of the property which has been willed to him.All very exhausting.Now we have cut ties.And i am not sad.
    Nan Norma
    23rd Dec 2015
    6:02pm
    I have read what the Adult guardian referred to as 'squabbling siblings'. Her words made me very angry. The siblings are not squabbling' they are trying to defend their right not to be ripped off by a greedy sibling. I have asked people what they would do if their mother put a big cake on the table and said , share it, and one of their siblings snatched the whole cake. They think differently then.

    A&K I know how it feels. I never got a say in my mother's funeral. One sister was controlling everything.
    Anonymous
    26th Dec 2015
    12:04pm
    Two sides to every story, Nan. Sometimes the ''controller'' is compelled to take control and works very hard while the whiners sit back and do nothing but complain. Sometimes, there are very good reasons why the cake isn't distributed fairly, and it's not that anyone ''snatched'', but rather that circumstances and past events dictate the equal division would be grossly UNFAIR.
    Nan Norma
    26th Dec 2015
    2:25pm
    Rainey. You've have had a bad experience I feel. You say there are two sides to every story. Would you say that when its elder abuse or domestic abuse? Probably not. From my experience it is usually the spoilt child that turns out to be is the greedy one.
    andytwo
    23rd Dec 2015
    5:28pm
    I made an appointment with Public Trustee,30" allowed, after name rank s/n etc exchanged I asked, seeing I live alone, how do they know that I have karked it. Reply was they read it the Death Notices, I then asked who puts the notice in the notices the reply was the executor, I then asked where they not the executor and he said yes and so we started again. In the meantime my remains lay on the lounge floor or wherever waiting for the death notice. True story.
    Pudding
    23rd Dec 2015
    5:45pm
    Andy, that would not surprise me in the least with all the dealings that I have had with the Public Trustee over the years.
    CindyLou
    23rd Dec 2015
    6:20pm
    I've heard very negative comments re public trustee, ridiculous high costs to administer even simple straightforward estates.

    There must be better options, ie joint trustee between a family friend and solicitor.
    CindyLou
    23rd Dec 2015
    6:21pm
    Oops, meant to write joint executors. Sorry
    Nan Norma
    23rd Dec 2015
    8:08pm
    Cindy Lou, My solicitor charged $6000 and took nine months for a very simple will. No house, no property, only cash. Everybody is in for their cut. And this 'gentleman' had been a friend of my parents for years.
    Circum
    28th Dec 2015
    7:10pm
    Nan there is a solicitor/law association which can advise and take action against overcharging.Basically they can cost the work required in different situations.I was an executor for a friends mother who had a preferred family solicitor who I used for any legal aspects that I could not do myself.His bill was outrageous.When I wrote and asked him for a breakdown of cost and advised him that I was aware I could dispute his fee,he send a new bill which was 66% lower.
    Regarding administration costs executors can charge,the figure was about 5% years ago.What it is now I dont know.Professional executors such as Public Trustees may charge more.My experience with Public trustees is that they are basically fund managers but charge more than your bank manager would.In most cases they outsource the tasks that are required to finalise an estate.Eg.Valuers for house an contents,Real estate agents etc.So the final cost is higher than any cost % they may quote
    Unlike a family member who may feel responsible to obtain the best result for the estate,the public trustees focus is to finalise the estate and get its commission.
    One point of interest which many may not know about is cases where the public trustee is responsible for investing funds left in trust ,the public trustee decides how the money is to be invested.In the case of the South Australian Public trustee it was acceptable for them to invest client funds for clients over 80 years of age in their GROWTH fund .When queried with the Ombudsman,the reply was..they can do what they want.

    On a related issue with wills is Power of attorney.In particular if making or revising a will,think about what happens if you get alzheimers.If you do you can no longer change your will.As an example if you want your 2 kids to get 50 % each and would change this to your grandkids should should one of your kids unfortunately pass away.Then you cant going by my non legal understanding.Appointing a power of attorney means you get to nominate who looks after your financial affairs.Otherwise the rellos may or may not wish to be appointed by the guardianship board (or equivalent) .There is a lot of paperwork and reporting of financials by the appointee to the board.Failing this the public trustee may be reported and your bills start.Sadly you may never see anyone from the public trustee.
    PIXAPD
    28th Dec 2015
    5:57pm
    After you snuff it...for you it will not matter...but family might suffer if no will or a fool as executor. The Trustee and Guardian do take their bit of the estate but at least they'll do a good job. After the death of my father back in 1998 I found them efficient and quick, took care of everything once I saw the Funeral folks. Some people do not like them...but it's up to each person. I've used them too...simple will = simple for family.
    KB
    3rd Mar 2016
    8:46pm
    Public Trustees do take a slice off the will when distributing money between family members. If you are on a pension and have a concession card the actual drawing up a will is free,
    Nan Norma
    3rd Mar 2016
    10:45pm
    Yes, they do not charge for drawing up a will but make up for that when they execute the will.
    Nan Norma
    3rd Mar 2016
    10:54pm
    If your executor dies, their executor becomes your executor.
    Beemee
    16th Apr 2019
    1:06pm
    Our son has a Will from the mother-in-law and the lawyer has chosen an accountant as the initial one retired. Is this correct? This is SA based lawyer, will reading and accountant.
    The accountant chosen by the lawyer has already made a big blunder, put in something for the ATO and it was wrong and illegal. She also wants $4000 to put this to the ATO. (don't know what the "This" is)
    I was under the impression as you are the one retaining the lawyer, you have a say in whosoever is chosen, providing it is not illegal, or at odds with the what is contained in the Will.
    I need direction on this, don't know where to look to find out more.