In the process of preparing or updating your Will – after agonising over how to keep your family members happy, who gets the important heirlooms and how much will be given to charity – it often happens that little thought is put into considering who is going to be your executor. Choosing the executor of your Will is one of the most important things to consider particularly in this modern age of blended families, complicated finances and longer life expectancies.

The tasks of the executor can be time-consuming and demanding. Some of the duties can include contacting and notifying any beneficiaries, making sure that all of the assets are safe, obtaining a valuation of the estate, applying to the Supreme Court for probate, paying any debts that are owed by the estate and seeing that the estate is divided according to the deceased’s wishes.

When trying to decide on an executor for your Will there are usually four main types of people that can be used. A member of the family or trusted friend is usually the most common choice and contrary to popular belief an executor can be one of the beneficiaries of the Will. Another common choice is a professional advisor such as a solicitor or accountant. Finally, another possible choice could be a professional trustee company.

Ideally, when choosing an executor you should select someone that is younger than you, lives in the same city and has a practical knowledge of both your family and your assets. If you chose to use family member or close family friend they will most likely need to enlist the help of a lawyer and/or accountant to assist with the technical details of the Will. Whether using the professional lawyers and accountants as the executor or advisor, it is better to choose an accountant or solicitor who specialises in estate planning as this may help to reduce the associated costs of the service. This is because a general solicitor will often have to consult a Will expert and hence you will be charged extra fees for the additional service.

The other main option is to use a professional trustee company. In each state the government runs its own service, in NSW this is the Public Trustee. There are also commercial trustee services such as Equity Trustees, Perpetual Trustees and the trustee divisions of the big banks. An advantage of using a professional trustee is that they are an independent and impartial party and have a variety of staff available to attend to all areas of the execution. However, one of the main drawbacks to using a professional trustee is that is there can be high costs involved. The government sets a maximum sliding scale that charges fees based on a percentage of the value of all the asset’s held in the deceased’s sole name.

Most people mistakenly believe that their own Will is quite simple to administer. They often just look at the cost and do not understand or appreciate the complexities. As soon as a divorce or a family-run business is thrown in the mix it can become quite complicated.

At The Quinn Group, our team of accountants and lawyers are available to offer advice on all areas of Wills and deceased estates. Whether you need assistance administering a deceased estate, drafting or amending a Will, valuing the estate, or distributing the estate to beneficiaries, we can help you. To speak with one of our professionals regarding Wills and estates please contact The Quinn Group on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry.