Role of an Executor

This is a brief summary of the various duties and responsibilities of an Executor.  If once reading this summary you would like to find out more about our Executor Assistance Service please contact us  by email, freecall 1800 350 930 or Facebook

  • Locate and read the Will
  • Make appropriate funeral arrangements
  • Confer with family, legal and business associates
  • Determine beneficial interests and advise beneficiaries accordingly
  • Ascertain and respond to immediate family needs
  • Protect the assets

–        Collect valuables and income and issue receipts

–        Invest surplus income

–        Guard business interests

–        Insure all property

  • Determine all assets and liabilities and prepare a detailed schedule, including

–        Cash and Securities

–        Real Estate

–        Debts owing and Payable

–        Personal effects

–        Business interests

–        Interstate property

  • Attend to all legal formalities and obtain Grant of Probate
  • Administer the Estate
  • Realise assets to pay liabilities, including income tax to the date of death
  • Provide accounting and tax information to beneficiaries
  • Distribute the Estate
  • Pay Legacies, hand over items bequeathed and obtain receipt
  • Establish trusts for minors and other contingent beneficial interests
  • Transfer cash or assets to beneficiaries
  • Prepare financial statements for beneficiaries

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What is Probate?

Probate is the formal document issued by the Supreme Court, authorising the Executor to administer the estate of the deceased person, in terms of the Will.

How do I know if a grant of Probate is required?

If the deceased held assets solely in their own name such as bank accounts, shares, real estate owned solely or tenants in common.

Probate is required where assets over $10,000.00 are held or there is real estate involved.

Probate is not required if the deceased held bank accounts or real estate jointly (ie. with a spouse). In this case the asset is transferred by way of survivorship.

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There is No Will – what now?

When a person dies without leaving a Will, they are said to have died “intestate” and their estate must be distributed strictly according to the law, often by a Court appointed Administrator.  The next of kin is entitled to apply for Letters of Administration in these circumstances.

Regardless of its size or value an “intestate estate” will require specialised attention to determine:

  • Whether or not circumstances warrant obtaining Letters of Administration,
  • Who can (or should) apply to become the Administrator of the intestate Estate
  • Who is legally entitled to benefit from the Estate, and
  • What share of the estate each beneficiary will receive

If there is no Will and Letters of Administration are required

you will need professional help



An Administrator’s role in many aspects is the same as that of an Executor and places similar demands on an individual’s resources and time.

Should you wish to find out more about our services or would like to organise an obligation free meeting please contact us on freecall 1800 350 930.

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Glossary of Terms


A person appointed by the Court to administer a deceased estate where the nominated Executor is unable or unwilling to act, or where no Executor has been named, or no Will is left.


Property (real or personal) of any description owned by a person at the date of death.


A person or organization that benefits in terms of a Will.


A gift of personal property such as furniture or jewellery (not real estate) to a beneficiary in terms of a Will.


A legal document used to make alterations to the terms of a Will.


A gift of real estate to a beneficiary (the devisee) in terms of a Will.


All Assets and Liabilities of a testator at the time of death.


A person appointed by a will maker to administer the terms of a Will.  Where more than one person is appointed, they are known as Co-Executors.


Where a person dies without leaving a valid Will they are said to have died intestate.

Joint Tenants

Property owned by more than one person as joint tenants, passes automatically to the survivor on the death of any one of the joint owners. Assets owner as joint tenants do not form part of the estate and cannot be disposed of by Will.


A cash amount left to a beneficiary (the legatee) in terms of a Will.

Letters of Administration

The formal document issued by the Supreme Court, authorizing the Administrator to administer the estate of a deceased person.


All debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, duty or tax payable in consequence of death.


The formal document issued by the Supreme Court, authorizing the Executor to administer the estate of a deceased person, in terms of the Will.

Residue/Residual Estate

The balance of an estate remaining after the discharge of liabilities and the payment, transfer or handing over of all gifts in terms of Will.  This portion of the estate is called the residuary estate and the recipients are termed the residuary beneficiaries.

Tenants in Common

Property owned by more than one person as tenants in common does not automatically pass to the surviving owner but forms part of the estate.  Property owned by a tenant in common can be disposed of by Will.

Testamentary Expenses

The expenses incurred in obtaining probate, obtaining advice (legal, accounting and tax), protecting the assets, investigating claims and carrying out the terms of the Will (including Executor’s commission).

Testator (or Testatrix)

The person who makes a Will.


Where a trust is created by Will a Trustee must be appointed.  An Executor can also be appointed as Trustee.

Trustee Corporation

A Corporation authorised by Statute to act as Executor and Trustee of a deceased estate.

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