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3 things to consider when choosing your will’s executor

Lawyers can help with estate planning decisions.

There is a lot to carefully consider when drafting your last will and testament. In particular, selecting the right person to be your executor requires a lot of deliberation.

In Queensland, the duties expected of an executor are diverse and often require them to be financially adept. It is essential to think long and hard if the person you name as the executor of your will has the right skill set for the job. Essentially, the executor has the same rights as the deceased if he or she was alive.

These three considerations can help ease the decision process.

1. Will they be able to perform the duties expected? 

An executor's duties include finding and notifying beneficiaries, checking and protecting assets, identifying debts and liabilities, confirming insurance for assets and seeking a grant of probate from the Supreme Court of Queensland.

The executor often needs to prepare tax returns, financial statements or get income tax clearances. They have a large responsibility in the process of distributing the estate. Will they be able to efficiently manage these tasks? The estate's Solicitor and Accountant will assist but ultimately the responsibilities lie with the executor.

2. How do they handle pressure?

Losing a loved one can be one of the most traumatic experiences in life. Keeping in mind the demanding range of tasks expected of an executor, evaluate how they managed previous challenges in their life. Reviewing how they performed under stress or in the midst of an emotionally difficult time can help make your decision. 

3. Would it be better to name multiple executors?

Estate planning changes from person to person depending on what best suits their needs. Usually, only one or two people are names as an executor in a will, however there isn't technically any limit imposed. It might be beneficial in some cases to name several executors. This can help ease the pressure for grieving loved ones. It also allows an executor who is unable or unwilling to act to renounce his responsibilities and allow the other executor/s to act.

Sometimes, the best course of action is to name a solicitor as one of the executors as they have years of professional legal experience dealing with such matters and can offer an independent, unbiased view. Their expertise can help provide structure and planning for executor duties, giving loved ones time to mourn. The costs of administering an estate will commonly be lower when a Solicitor is the executor as he does not need to consult anyone else in acting in the best interests of the estate.

Make sure to consult with expert lawyers during your estate planning process, to gain advice that is specific to your needs.