When setting out a will, selecting an appropriate executor is critical for prompt and trouble-free administration of an estate. The following real-life New South Wales case study demonstrates why.
‘I was informed by my older sibling in an early afternoon phone call of my father’s death. My sibling is the sole executor of my father’s will. I offer to meet at the family home to give assistance and consolation. I am told that none is needed, nor is my presence. I was not consulted after this point.’
This post looks at the rights and obligations of an executor and the rights of a beneficiary as they apply in NSW.
What are the rights and duties of an executor?
Executor duties tend to be broad and extensive. There are legal obligations, such as arranging a funeral, finding the will of the deceased and acting upon it, determining the assets of the deceased, obtaining a grant of probate, dealing with estate assets and making distributions in accordance with the will.
What about beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries have few rights or powers worth the name. They have no right to have input into the nature of the funeral, the method or timing of sale of assets, and no right to require the executor to give interim reports about finalising the estate.
Executors must comply with the rules of administration of estates, such as time limits. An executor must:
- Act diligently and in good faith.
- Distribute the estate within 12 months of the death (although this can be extended).
- Provide a statement of distribution to the beneficiaries when sending their entitlement.
What should I consider when appointing an executor?
Give careful consideration to who you appoint as an executor or executors. If needed, consult with a wills and estate planning lawyer when you are preparing your will. Appoint executors who are efficient, caring and trustworthy and who will act in accordance with your will.