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Executor of Estate in Brisbane

In Brisbane, an executor of an estate is the person who is in charge of administrating a deceased estate after the death of a testator. The executor is responsible for safeguarding the estate until they can distribute the assets according to the testator’s wishes.  Given the scale of responsibility involved in the role, a testator must use care to select their executor from their family, friends or a professional. This article explains the role of executor of estate in Brisbane, with a particular focus on the responsibilities of the role.

Can A Testator Appoint More Than One Executor Of Estate In Brisbane?

It is common for a testator to appoint several executors in their will, to provide an alternative if one nominee is unavailable or unwilling to accept the appointment. It is not unusual for a named executor to predecease a testator or for their circumstances to change so that they are unable to discharge the duties of the role. There is no limit to the number of potential executors that the testator can name in the will, but it is best to limit the list to a few trusted and reliable people. The Supreme Court of Queensland only grants probate to a maximum of four executors at any one time.

Co-Executors Of Estate In Brisbane

In fact, several executors can work in tandem to share the responsibility of the deceased estate administration. A child of the deceased and a solicitor might form a joint executorship and manage those tasks that are most suited to each executor: for instance, the professional might handle the administrative tasks, leaving the family member to make arrangements for the funeral and the care of the deceased’s personal belongings and pets during probate. This merger of intimate knowledge of the deceased’s family and impartial professionalism can provide the right balance for a grieving family. Co-executors share authority for major tasks, such as legal defence of the estate or sale of real estate, but each executor can undertake minor estate duties on behalf of the executorship and the deceased estate.

Duties Of An Executor Of Estate In Brisbane

An executor administrating an estate in Brisbane needs to act in accordance with the testator’s wishes and the Succession Act 1981. The executor has a fiduciary duty, enforceable by law, to protect the deceased estate and the interests of the beneficiaries of the will. The executor must communicate appropriately with beneficiaries and creditors, mediate any disputes, and administrate the estate without undue delay. This is a serious responsibility that should not be undertaken lightly.

The specific duties of an executor vary according to the testamentary circumstances of the deceased but may include:

  • Obtaining a death certificate;
  • Arranging the funeral and burial of the deceased;
  • Locating, valuing and safeguarding the assets of the deceased;
  • Applying for probate of the will;
  • Discharging the debts and liabilities of the estate;
  • Representing the estate in any litigation, including legal challenge or contest; and
  • Distributing the assets according to the terms of the will.

Remuneration For An Executor Of Estate In Brisbane

As the duties of an executor can be onerous and time-consuming, there is potential for the executor to require compensation and remuneration. In Brisbane, an estate must repay any expenses that directly relate to the executor’s duties. Often a testator will leave a gift for an executor in recognition of their efforts, or the beneficiaries will agree to compensate the executor in some small way. Additionally, an executor can apply to the court for an executor’s commission to compensate for the time and effort expended during the administration of the deceased estate.

Can Someone Refuse To Act As Executor Of An Estate In Brisbane?

Someone who is named as executor in a will is not obligated to accept the role. While it is flattering to know that the testator trusted you, and it is difficult to refuse a last request of a loved one, it is best to consider the matter prosaically. Unless the executor is both capable and willing to assume the duties of the role, it is best to renounce the appointment and let another person act as personal representative. In Brisbane, an executor can even pass over responsibility to the State Trustee to act on their behalf.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.
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