Appointing An Executor – Should You Pick A Public Trustee


Wills are without a doubt one of the most significant documents you will prepare in your life. You want to make sure that you do more than just a cursory job preparing it.


One of the key aspects of preparing a will is appointing an executor. Executors are the ones responsible for distributing your estate when you, the testator, have passed on. They must be capable of administering your estate, and representing your wishes you are gone.


Choosing your executor is a crucial consideration. Choosing a close friend or family member may seem like a good initially, but if they are dealing with grief it may be a burden for them. Many opt for their lawyer to represent their interests.


However, in some cases, you may express your desire for your estate to be administered by a state or territory public trustee. This may not be a good idea for the reasons below.


Choosing A State or Public Trustee As Your Executor


As public trustees are provided as a public service, there are potential delays. There will also be a number of staff involved on your case, and it may be your beneficiaries will not talk to the same person twice. However, if you appoint a reliable family member or lawyer, you will only have one individual to deal with.


Public trustees may also be very controlling of the process. In comparison, a lawyer may be more accommodating as they have a business and a reputation to uphold.


Types of Trustees In Different Australian States


Each public trustee office takes one different variations of names for their role. Below is a list of the different types of trustees in each of the states and territories:


  • QLD: The Public Trustee
  • SA: Public Trustee
  • TAS: The Public Trustee
  • VIC: State Trustees
  • WA: Public Trustee
  • ACT: Public Trustee and Guardian
  • NSW: The NSW Trustee and Guardian
  • NT: The Public Trustee


How Much Will A Public Trustee Cost?


Public trustees are paid hourly or by commission. This can get fairly expensive quite quickly. Without going into the specifics, trustees may work as much as eight hours a week over a course of months on your case – at an average workers wage this can add up into the tens of thousands. If you are being charged on commission, fees of 5% are not uncommon. If they are selling assets such as a house worth half a million, that could mean up to $25,000 AUD in fees right there.


Be Wary of ‘Free’ Wills


Some trustees may offer their will writing services for free in exchange of naming them as your executor. Be wary, as the executor fees may dwarf the cost of preparing a will.


Take your time and consider who will be the right person to appoint as your executor. As evidenced above, simply passing off the duty to a public or state trustee can cause several headaches later on for your grieving family and loved ones.

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