The executor of an Estate is the legal personal representative of the estate and is appointed in the will.
The executor’s job is to administer the estate according to law and according to the wishes of the testator through their will.
It is not a role for the faint-hearted as there is often a significant amount of work involved. For example, the executor will be responsible for the disposal of the body, packing up the home and personal possessions, arranging for property to be cleaned in preparation for sale, liaising with selling agents as well as liaising with the estate solicitors to keep the beneficiaries informed and, ultimately, attend to the distribution of the estate with the assistance of the estate solicitor.
Along with the responsibilities of the executor, there are certain risks if you do not administer the estate properly. For example, you can be personally liable to creditors if you do not take notice of the proper timeframes and required notices. This is where Our Lawyers help executors to ensure they minimise their personal liability and comply with their obligations – the laws surrounding administering an Estate can be complex. It is important to ensure you receive the right advice.
The following describes some of the processes and some important steps whilst acting as the executor of an Estate.
Look after yourself
Losing a loved one is challenging, so take time to look after your own needs before beginning your role as an executor. Take the time to talk to family and friends about your loss. The following confidential counselling services are available 24 hours a day:
Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
The most recent Will
It is important that you are reading the deceased’s most recent Will and that you are able to locate the original. If you cannot locate an original will, it is a good start to phone local law firms or law firms that the deceased has previously used. If you cannot locate an original will, then the estate process will be change significantly.
Our Lawyers’ Wills & Estates Solicitors can assist you to try and locate the deceased’s Will through searches and enquiries with Southern Highlands Law Firms.
List the deceased assets
Make a list of everything the deceased owned, what assets they may be entitled to, as well as any liabilities they have.
The account of assets and liabilities may be composed of the following:
Place of residence
Bank accounts and cash
Investments and shares
Bills such as gas, electricity, pharmacy
What happens next will vary in each individual scenario as it will depend on how the assets are held as well as the value of the assets. This is again where Our Lawyers Wills & Estates solicitors assist you and guide you through the process.
The Probate Application
In certain circumstances, a ‘Grant of Probate’ is required before the assets are available for distribution.
Probate is an application made through the Supreme Court.
Before submitting the application, you must place a notice on the Supreme Court online registry confirming your intention to do so. This notice period is 14 days and allows other interested parties time to take action if required.
The application itself consists, in part, of an Executor’s Affidavit which references the death certificate, an inventory of property and will also include the original Will.
The application is accompanied by a filing fee set down by the Supreme Court. This fee is proportionate to the value of the Estate.
Gathering the Assets and Distribution
The estate will need to deal with the assets in an appropriate way in order to attend to distribution.
If there is property involved and it is not held as Joint Tenants, then a Grant of Probate will always be required before anything is actioned on the property.
With other types of assets, it is up to the asset holder (ie the Bank) to decide at what point they require a Grant of Probate. This is generally based on a dollar value and assets over that value will require a Grant of Probate.
Once all the assets have been converted to cash or arrangements have been made for the assets to be transferred without being sold, the Estate will then pay its debts and the balance will be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will.
The executor will generally have what is referred to as the ‘Executor’s Year’ to complete the administration process. This timeframe is not set in stone and can be variable depending on, for example, the makeup of the estate, any possible disputes and the age of the beneficiaries.
It is worth remembering that if you do not distribute within 12 months from the date of death, there may be interest payable on certain gifts and the executor can be personally liable for this in certain circumstances.
It is important for an executor to be well informed of their responsibilities as well as the potential risks throughout the administration process. This is where proper legal advice is vital.
At Our Lawyers, our Wills & Estates team is led by Sara Price who is the only Accredited Specialist in Wills & Estates in the Southern Highlands. Sara and her team can guide you through each step of the process and work with you to ensure a smooth process of administrating and distributing the Estate.
Home Visits – We Come To You
Our Lawyers have been serving the Southern Highlands Community for over 20 years. Each of our staff members holds the Southern Highlands community’s needs at heart. From supporting local businesses to helping its citizens, we are with our community every step of the way.
It is at the core of our practice to provide professional, efficient, and friendly service to our clients. We understand the difficulties that some might face regarding travel and offer at home-visits to our clients – both new and existing.
Our home-visit service is available to clients requiring assistance for Wills & Estates clients. In some circumstances, we can provide home visit services in other areas of law.
Through this service, we hope to bring you peace of mind during what can often be quite confronting circumstances due to illness or injury.
Whether at your home or in the office, we continue to offer high standards of legal advice.
For more information and to book your home visit appointment, contact our office today.
Southern Highlands Office: 87 Main Street, Mittagong, NSW 2575
Picton Office: 13e/150-158 Argyle St, Picton NSW 2571
PO BOX: PO Box 150, Mittagong, NSW 2575
Phone: (02) 4872 4004
Fax: (02) 4872 4216
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Visiting Our Lawyers office in the Southern Highlands can be an excuse to relax and experience Australia's most beautiful destination. The Southern Highlands, also known locally as the Highlands, is an area of New South Wales located 110 kilometres south-west of Sydney. Governed by the local government area of Wingecarribee Shire, this region is considered a major wine-producing area of the state. With a range of commercial towns, such as Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Bundanoon and Robertson, as well as Berrima - a historically significant town - the Southern Highlands is made up of a vast selection of villages and residential areas. Burradoo, Sutton Forest, Colo Vale, Avoca, Yerrinbool, Exeter and Welby are just some of the many villages that make up this remarkable and beautiful region.