The Role and Duties of an Executor of a Will
THE ROLE OF AN EXECUTOR
Many have heard the significance of a will, yet many may overlook an essential element, i.e. the appointment of an executor. Appointing a reliable, adequately skilled and trustworthy executor is as important as writing a valid will, because picking a right executor can ensure the efficiency, effectiveness and accuracy of the management as well as distribution of your estate. An adult or adults with the age of 21 years old and above can be appointed as executor(s), subject to a maximum of 4 persons acting jointly. Where representation has been granted to more than one executor, and one of them dies, the representation of estate shall accrue to the surviving executors.
Alternatively, you may nominate someone else to step into the shoes of your appointed executor(s) in the event any of them predecease you or renounce their executorship. The executor appointed in the will should be someone who is able, willing and has the capacity to carry out the administration of the estate.
THE DUTIES OF AN EXECUTOR
The first duty of an executor is to engage with a probate lawyer to apply for and extract the grant of probate prior to dealing with the deceased’s assets. Once the probate is granted, an executor has to ascertain the assets and liabilities of the deceased and to make an inventory list. The executor must first enquire into and pay the debts and liabilities of the estate, such as funeral expenses and any outstanding loans etc. Thereafter, it comes the onerous responsibilities of the executor to
administer and distribute the estate. Always bear in mind that the executor owes the beneficiaries a fiduciary duty, in which the executor are always required to act in good faith, diligently and impartially in administering the estate. For example, an executor might not be a financial or investment expert, but he must still reasonably consider whether to convert any income generating assets into other investments which may give the best possible returns to the beneficiaries. An executor is also required to comply with the Trustees Act 1949, as he is holding the role of a trustee holding the assets on trust for the beneficiaries until the estate is fully administered. At the end of
the administration, the executor must prepare an administration account where he accounts for all monies received and disbursed during the administration period in order to discharge his duties.
THE POWERS OF AN EXECUTOR
The executor is given wide ranging of power by Probate and Administration Act 1959 and by the will per se. For instance, the executor has the power to sell all or any part of the estate. The executor has the power to enter contracts which shall be binding. An executor has the power to invest, to insure against loss or damage by fire and power to delegate etc.
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