Being an executor of an estate

An executor is the person responsible for administering an estate—as wished by the person who passed away, through their will and the Succession Act 1981 (Qld).

After you find and read the will, your duties as an executor may include:

  • getting probate from the Supreme Court of Queensland, if required
  • finding and notifying beneficiaries—people named in the will who receive something from the estate
  • checking and protecting assets
  • confirming insurance of assets
  • collecting valuables and income
  • determining debts and liabilities
  • preparing tax returns and getting income tax clearances
  • transferring or sales of assets
  • preparing financial statements
  • distributing the estate.

If there is an error in administering the estate, whether it is on purpose or by accident, you (as executor) may be responsible.

For example, there have been cases where assets were damaged by fire or stolen. The executor had not paid the insurance on time, even though there was money in the estate to pay the bill.

Sometimes the executor may be personally responsible for the assets and the financial loss to the estate.

If you do not want to be an executor

You can turn down the responsibility (renounce the duty) if you are appointed as an executor—you can ask the Public Trustee to administer the estate instead.  The Public Trustee will charge a fee to administer the estate and can provide you with an estimate on request.

If you do accept the responsibility, be sure that you want to administer the estate. Once you start the process, it is not always easy to stop part way through and can add to the costs of administering the estate.

For more information

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