Posted on: 12 September 2016
It can be a shock in the middle of dealing with the death of a loved one to find that they have also been named as the executor of the estate. As most people have not had to regularly deal with deceased estates, it can be a scary prospect to deal with the administrative aspects of the task.
What does it mean to be the executor?
The executor fulfils the wishes of the will. This can include writing to the bank to release funds to named parties, selling items and organising for services to be stopped to the home. It often be relatively easy when the estate is a simple one consisting of personal items and cash at bank, but can be harder when there are multiple assets and beneficiaries or complex assets which are part owned by other parties.
Do you have to do it?
No, you can always not accept the task of being executor. People often find the task hard and ask someone else to take it on particularly if they are very distressed about the death and struggling to cope with their own existing obligations. There may be a secondary option mentioned in the will, or you can get a professional service to help you with the estate. You can allocate either an experienced lawyer in this area or the public trustee to do this task. They will charge a fee which is usually proportional to the size of the estate.
Can you get reimbursed?
Yes, the court recognises that there may be costs involved executing a will and you can reimbursed for reasonable costs. The will writer may also allow you to charge a percentage of the estate or offer you a specific amount in the will in reflection of the work involved.You can apply to the court for a commission if you are not explicitly mentioned in the will. They will look not only at the size of the estate but also of the complexity of fulfilling the requests in order to derive a fair rate.
Professional services can either charge fees or a commission, or sometimes a combination of both methods.
If you have been named as executor of a will and are not sure of what your obligations are under the will you should meet with a lawyer. They can help to explain your responsibilities so that you can decide if you can fulfil the role.Share