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Duties of an Executor and Administrator

An administrator has the same responsibilities and powers as an executor.

There are many duties imposed on the executor of an estate. The most important of the executor's duties is to act in the best interests of the estate and all the beneficiaries. The relationship between executor and beneficiary is considered a fiduciary relationship, which means the executor must act in utmost good faith and put the interests of the estate and all beneficiaries above his or her own self-interest. In addition to a duty of utmost good faith, here are some other examples of executor's duties:

  • Identify and (if necessary) notify the beneficiaries that the deceased has passed away and that you intend to apply for a grant of probate or letters of administration.
  • Arrange the funeral.
  • Arrange safekeeping of the deceased's assets (make an itemised list).
  • Obtain a grant of probate or letters of administration.
  • Take care of any business interests and protect any income sources (including debts owed to the deceased).
  • Invest any surplus money appropriately while administering the estate.
  • Insure valuable property appropriately.
  • Complete the deceased's income tax returns.
  • Keep accurate records.
  • Any land in the name of the deceased can be transferred to the executor by lodging the grant of probate with Landgate, together with an application to transfer the land known as a “transmission application".
  • Publish a notice pursuant to section 63 of the Trustees Act 1962 (WA).
  • Establish any trusts required under the will or by law, such as a minor trust under section 17A of the Administration Act 1903 (WA).
  • Distribute the deceased's estate in accordance with the will or the law, and within a reasonable time.

The executor is often guided by a lawyer who provides professional advice to minimise the risk of personal liability, and to deal with any complications or claims made on the estate. The lawyers at Douglas Cheveralls Lawyers may provide this guidance.

Disputes with an Executor or Administrator

Douglas Cheveralls Lawyers also has experience in providing advice about disputes that arise when an executor or administrator does not follow these rules, or is slow to take any steps about the administration of the estate.

A beneficiary may have a potential claim against an executor who does not follow the law or does not administer the estate in a timely manner. These rights may include removing an executor or applying to the Supreme Court for an order that the executor is personally liable for loss caused. If you suspect that this has occurred, contact us for more information about your specific rights.