What is an Executor?
Have you been chosen by a family member or friend to be the Executor of their Will? This means that you have been given responsibility to manage their estate according to the terms they have stated in their Will and to protect their assets under the various laws and rules that govern estate administration in Australia.
What are the Executor’s duties?
An Executor’s duties may include responsibilities such as:
- Organising the funeral
- Locating the Will
- Obtaining a copy of the Death Certificate
- Making sure any property and assets are safe and secure
- Determining the value of assets
- Applying for Probate
- Paying insurance policies, debts and taxes
- Collecting monies belonging to the deceased from financial institutions and insurance companies
- Collecting debts owed to the deceased
- Lodging tax returns for the deceased and for the estate
- Selling properties and assets
- Reporting to beneficiaries
- Distributing the proceeds of the estate to beneficiaries
- Setting up trusts
What is Probate?
Probate is recognition of the Will’s validity and permission from the Supreme Court for the Executors named in the Will of the deceased to carry out their duties in relation to the estate. You will likely need a grant of Probate to deal with the assets of an estate, such as selling property and obtaining bank funds.
Do I need a Solicitor?
Estates vary in complexity and Executor’s duties can be complicated, so it may be a good idea to get advice from a Solicitor. The cost of legal advice is usually covered by the estate, not the Executors.
What if there is no Will?
This situation is referred to as Intestacy and the law determines how assets will be shared out after debts have been paid. If you are the next of kin you can apply for Letters of Administration, which will give you authority to finalise the estate.
What if I am not up to the job?
Just because you have been named an Executor does not mean you have to accept the responsibility. If there is another Executor named, they can take on the whole of the job, or if you are the sole Executor you can apply to the court to appoint someone else. You cannot change your mind later though – giving up the responsibility is final.