In this series we will discuss the fundamental basics of Wills and Estate Planning, providing information and guidance that may answer questions you have throughout this process. This week we will walk you through the decision of who will you appoint as the Executor in your Will.

Your Will is the instruction manual for your Executor – it’s the document that tells your Executor how he or she is going to deal with and distribute your estate. As your Estate will consist of those assets that you’ve collated over the years, worked very hard to accumulate – you should think carefully about who you choose to be your Executor.

Being an executor is an important and responsible appointment.The value of your assets and asset structure is likely to influence how uncomplicated, detailed or complex your Will is/is going to be.

Do you have Family Trusts, interests in companies, foreign assets, property, share portfolio or money in the bank?

Does/Should your Will include, for example, provisions for minor beneficiaries, Special Needs Trusts, Testamentary Discretionary Trusts? If so, is your Executor likely to understand their obligations and responsibilities? Does your Executor have the time to devote and dedicate to their role as Executor and Trustee?

With that in mind you may wish to appoint an Executor with established business acumen – as the Executor makes important decisions for the benefit of your Estate. Be practical and realistic with your choice.

It is worthwhile speaking with your chosen Executor. It is important that your Executor knows where your last Will is kept.

Consider your family dynamics as these may also influence your choice of Executor. Life can be complicated. There may be, for example, some strained family relationships or you may have a blended family. You may be excluding or making uneven or inadequate provision for some close family members in your Will who have standing to bring a claim against your estate under the Family Provision Act 1972 (WA). Your Executor will be the person responsible for dealing with questions, queries or disputes in this regard.

Your Executor may be a close family member and a beneficiary and so that one person may feel caught up in a number of competing interests. However, the Executor must focus on his or her role as Executor and make decisions for the benefit of the Estate and all the beneficiaries. The Executor’s decisions need to be impartial, independent and unbiased.

Having a Will and having appointed an Executor – the Executor will initially need to ascertain:

  • is the Will the last Will?
  • is there a Codicil to that Will?
  • whether a Grant of Probate is required? This will involve identifying the Estate assets and liabilities and establishing values for each respective asset and liability.
  • the whereabouts of the beneficiaries named in the Will.

How can HHG Legal Group Help?

Are you an Executor? Administering an Estate can be quite difficult. As the Executor owes a fiduciary duty to the Estate, it is important for the Executor to seek legal guidance when attending to his/her duties. We are highly qualified and able to assist you with every step of managing a deceased estate, including preparing the application for a Grant, administering the Estate, advertising for and liaising with creditors, distributing to beneficiaries and transferring assets.