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Choosing your Executor

By Catherine Atchison - 12 Sep 2012

When making a Will, one of the important decisions you will make is who to appoint as executor. The things your executor will have to do include:

• Applying to the High Court for a grant of probate
• Calling in all estate assets
• Paying all estate liabilities
• Distributing the estate balance to the beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of your Will
• Ensuring all tax returns are filed

While the estate lawyer assists the executor in all of this, important decisions may need to be made by the executor.

An executor's job can be very demanding with very little or no reward. Executors can be personally liable if an estate is not administered in the correct way, so you must be sure you select the right person for the job. 

When considering who to appoint as your executor, look for a person who:

  • Knows and understands your family dynamic
  • Can be resolute against pressure from beneficiaries
  • Is trustworthy and honest
  • Can make good decisions, including business and investment decisions
  • Is available to sign documents
  • Is resident in New Zealand to avoid unnecessary costs to the estate

If there is a chance of a claim against your estate, an independent, professional executor, such as a lawyer or accountant, may be a good option to ensure your family members are not put into positions of conflict.

You could also appoint more than one executor, so the pressure and responsibility is shared. This would allow for one of the executors to act, should the other be unwilling or unable to do so. You could also appoint one executor who knows and understands your family well, and one professional. There are a number of options available and things to consider and we are happy to discuss these with you.


Rebecca Collins

Catherine Atchison


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