Most people understand the importance of having a Will, but many of them overlook a crucial aspect; the appointment of an executor. Settling an estate may seem like a relatively easy task and in many cases executors are nominated without careful consideration of the consequences. So, before you appoint someone for the role of executor in your Will, you should at least be aware of what the title entails.

An executor can be a family member, friend, attorney or accountant who you trust and is capable of carrying out the duties which come with the role, upon your death.

The duties of an executor include the following:

  • The executor needs to obtain the Will, check its validity and file it together with the death notice with the Master of the High Court.
  • The executor needs to establish who the beneficiaries of the deceased estate are.
  • The executor will have to advertise the deceased estate.
  • The executor must have an idea of all the assets and liabilities in the estate and take over the management, as well as the protection of those assets.
  • Valuations of assets need to be obtained and an income tax return must be completed.
  • The executor must ensure that there is sufficient cash in the estate to pay the debts of the estate.
  • The executor is required to prepare a liquidation and distribution account to be lodged with the Master of the High Court.
  • Estate duty needs to be calculated and paid depending on the value of the deceased estate. Capital gain tax may also need to be considered.
  • The executor will need to distribute the remaining assets in the estate to the beneficiaries. Therefore, maintaining a good relationship and communication with the beneficiaries at all times is vital to ensure a smooth process followed.

Be careful when appointing a large trust company or a bank for the role of executor, unless you have a good relationship with a specific individual in the institution. Caution should be taken as there is usually no certainty as to which employee will be responsible for the winding up of your estate. Also be aware that these larger institutions often ask maximum fees to administer an estate, which will leave less funds/assets to the beneficiaries at the end of the day.

The role of an executor in dealing with an estate is not a simple task. A competent, professional executor will be able to finalise the estate in a speedily manner compared to an individual who has no clue of what the role entails. Remember to take into consideration all the duties of an executor when deciding on a person you would want to carry out your wishes effectively upon your death.

At Greeff Attorneys we offer holistic advice when it comes to your last will and testament. Our fees can also be negotiated and are normally much lower than those of bigger institutions.  Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you make the right decision.