17 March 17

Is it an honour to be named an executor… or is it a burden with significant risk?

By Emma Sakellaris, General Manager – Australian Unity Trustees


An executor is appointed within your will and is responsible for managing your estate and distributing assets according to your wishes.

The duties of an executor can be significantly time consuming, exceptionally complex and emotionally draining.

An executor is also legally responsible for fulfilling their duties and can be held personally liable for any financial losses incurred – this may result from actions of the executor, or lack of action by the executor, even if actions were undertaken in good faith.

Regardless of the nature of the will, administering an estate is rarely straightforward or easy, and is usually not a paid role for the individual appointed.

There are a range of tasks to be completed for the estate, including: establishing an estate bank account; management of investments and tax requirements; obtaining probate; transferring assets and settling debts; assisting with funeral payments, as well as identifying and locating all beneficiaries.  Unfortunately family disputes can and do arise, which in some cases may result in lengthy legal claims on the estate.

Many people decide to appoint a close family member as their executor, without realising the extent of the burden and risk they are placing on that person.  Furthermore, once an executor commences the estate administration process, they must continue through to estate distribution and finalisation.

However, clients may choose to appoint a trustee company, such as Australian Unity Trustees, as the executor of their estate.  In some cases the appointed individual executor may seek the expertise, experience and support of Australian Unity Trustees to assist them to fulfil their duties.

Australian Unity Trustees can work with appointed executors to provide our Executor Assist service.  We will work with the executor to ensure they are fully supported along each step of the estate administration process, through to distribution of the assets and finalisation of the estate.

We can also introduce executors to a range of professional partners with whom we work, to assist with tasks such as: property management, preparation for sale and sale; establishment of any trusts required by the will; establishment of estate bank accounts and completion of all estate tax requirements and ATO reporting.

Australian Unity Trustees works in partnership with executors to help ensure the estate is administered efficiently, quickly and in line with the wishes of the deceased.