What is an executor of a will?
An executor is the person responsible for administering an estate of the deceased as nominated under their will and the Succession Act 1981 (Qld).
When preparing Wills for parents of adult children, one question that often arises is whether it is appropriate to consider appointing those adult children as executors, especially in cases where those children are also going to be beneficiaries.
Although the roles of executor and beneficiary are quite distinct, it is usually appropriate for adult children to be appointed as executors if they are beneficiaries for the sake of convenience and for the practical and efficient administration of the estate.
Can an Executor be a Beneficiary in a Will?
Yes, an executor can be a beneficiary in a will. It is common for adult children to be executors for their deceased parents, whilst also being a beneficiary. Although it is usually appropriate to appoint beneficiaries as executors in these cases, difficulties can arise where only some of the beneficiaries are appointed as executors. In those cases, tensions can arise during the administration of the estate.
In cases where you are considering nominating adult children as beneficiaries, it is not only wise to carefully consider your own family dynamic but, importantly, to also think carefully about the best choice of executors and how likely they will be to “do the right thing”. While it is not possible to make perfect choices in these cases it is, at least, important to think carefully about the potential consequences of these choices which can occasionally become complex.
While adult beneficiary children often have a vested interest in finalising an estate promptly – and usually are a good candidate to become executors for that reason – there are good reasons to think carefully about this important appointment so that your wishes are properly respected when the time comes.
What Does an Executor of a Will do?
There are a number of tasks that fall to the executor of a will, which may include and are not limited to:
- Paying any remaining debts
- Obtaining a grant of Probate
- Making funeral arrangements
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s will
- Notifying any corporations or government bodies that require notification of death such as the Department of Transportation, insurance companies, and/or Centrelink if the deceased was receiving periodic payments
Who can be an Executor of a Will?
In Queensland, anyone over the age of 18 can be the executor of your will. Some choose to pick relatives and/or professional executors such as solicitors. No matter who you choose, it is always best to seek legal advice, prior to making your decision to ensure your best wishes can be met.
What Happens if the Executor of a Will is Dead?
If the executor of a will dies before performing the tasks of an executor, the duty will most likely fall to the back-up executor nominated within the deceased’s will. If a back-up executor was not appointed, someone can apply to the Supreme Court to be an administrator of the estate. Our best advice is to appoint multiple back-up executors in case of any unfortunate events resulting in your primary executor's death or incapacity to administer your estate.
For more information on the roles of an executor, visit the Queensland Government website for official documentation. If you wish to discuss your will and executors, please phone Kennedy Spanner Lawyers on (07) 3236 9169.