When a person dies leaving assets, it is the responsibility of the Executor (or Executors) appointed under the Will to deal with the deceased’s estate.
An Executor has a number of important responsibilities, which may include:
- Organising the funeral (usually with other family members) and obtaining the Death Certificate.
- Locating the original Will.
- Dealing with day to day tasks, such as redirecting mail, cancelling services, arranging for any pets to be cared for etc.
- Administering the estate. This may involve obtaining a Grant of Probate if necessary (see What is probate and who grants it?).
- Collecting the Estate assets (which may involve having them valued) and looking after them for the benefit of the beneficiaries, as well as notifying the beneficiaries.
- Ascertaining whether the deceased had any debts or liabilities, and if so, arranging payment form the assets of the estate.
- Keeping records and accounts (including distribution and payment) of the Estate assets and liabilities.
- Seeking advice from an Accountant regarding any potential tax liability, or whether any personal or Estate tax returns are required.
- Once all debts are paid, to distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the Will.
Having read that list, you will be realising being an executor is a significant responsibility with lots of duties attached.
In reality, the executor works with our experiences wills and estate lawyers to undertake these steps, some we do on behalf of the executor, others they do with our guidance.
There are two important matters to think about from that:
- Firstly, you need to think carefully about who would be the right person to appoint as your executor
- Secondly, working with the right lawyer to administer the estate can relieve the burden and stress from the executor and speed up the process
Did you know that in most instances the executor can choose which lawyer to work with? Whether it is thinking about your own will or if you find yourself as the executor of the estate, contact our Will & Estates team on 03 5445 1000 to discuss how we can assist you.