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Choosing an Executor

By Rebecca Collins - 16 Oct 2013

One of the most important decisions when making a Will is who to appoint as executor. An executor's job can be very demanding with very little or no reward. Executors can also be held 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.

The things your executor will have to do include:

  • applying to the High Court for a grant of probate
  • gathering 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 an estate lawyer can assist the executor in these, important decisions may need to be made by the executor.

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 preferably resident in New Zealand to avoid unnecessary costs to the estate

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


Rebecca Collins

Lewis Grant


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