Estate administration

What is estate administration?

Estate administration is the process of distributing the assets of a deceased person’s estate to their beneficiaries. This task is carried out by the executor of the estate who is named in the deceased’s will.

Depending on the complexity of the estate and the number of assets and beneficiaries, an estate can take anywhere from six months to several years to administer. Apart from being time consuming, acting as executor is also a serious legal responsibility. That’s why is important to choose an executor for your will who is capable, has the time and no conflict of interest.

What is an executor responsible for?

The executor of an estate may be responsible for ensuring the deceased’s wishes are carried out and their assets are distributed according to their will. This may involve a number of tasks. 

  • Organise the funeral 
  • Locate and execute the will 
  • Communicate with beneficiaries (who may be distressed or feuding) 
  • Find the deceased’s assets, which may be in multiple states or countries 
  • Prepare legal documents about the estate’s assets to lodge with courts 
  • Apply for probate (permission to distribute the assets) 
  • Keep the assets safe, eg through insurance 
  • Sell assets if required, eg property, shares 
  • Distribute the assets to beneficiaries 
  • Complete tax returns 
  • Defend the will in court if it is disputed.

Things to consider

  • Does your executor have the time and impartiality needed to administer your estate? 
  • Is your executor willing to accept the legal responsibilities involved? 
  • If you’ve been named executor of someone else’s will, do you have capacity to take on the responsibility?

What’s next?


Perpetual or Perpetual Group means Perpetual Limited, ABN 86 000 431 827, and its subsidiaries. Perpetual Private advice and services are provided by Perpetual Trustee Company Limited (PTCo), ABN 42 000 001 007, AFSL 236643. This information has been prepared by Perpetual and contains information contributed by third parties. It contains general information and is not intended to provide you with advice or take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information is suitable for your circumstances and we recommend that you seek professional financial, tax and/or legal advice. The information is believed to be accurate at the time of compilation and is provided by Perpetual in good faith. However, the statements including assumptions and conclusions are not intended to be a comprehensive statement of relevant practice or law that is often complex and can change. To the extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted for any loss or damage as a result of any reliance on this information.

What's next?

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