Administration & Probate Lawyers
Dealing with the passing of a friend or family member is a very difficult time. When you are delegated with the responsibility of administering an estate, it can become even more stressful for you.
An Executor is the person appointed in a will to administer the deceased person's estate. The Executor has two main functions. The first is to make appropriate funeral arrangements and the second is to ensure that the terms of the will are carried out. It is always prudent to obtain legal advice early in the process so that you are well informed as to your role and responsibilities if you have been appointed as an executor. Our skilled and experienced probate lawyers will be able to provide you with detailed advice as to your legal obligations in administering the estate.
Executors have a duty to:-
- Advise the Beneficiaries – this will require the executor to locate the original Will and directly contact the beneficiaries and any relevant business associates regarding the administration of the estate.
- Manage the Estate - It is imperative for the executor to make certain that all assets including property and investments are secure.
- Assess the Estate - The executor must determine and account for all assets and liabilities. This will entail obtaining written confirmation from banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, share registers, titles office and creditors etc. The value of assets must be established; usually this is achieved by obtaining valuation reports from licenced valuers or estimates from known sources such as real estate agents. Our probate lawyers can alleviate the pressure of this task by communicating will all the relevant organisations on your behalf and preparing an Inventory of Property which sets out in detail the assets and liabilities of the deceased. This is normally a time consuming process which can be burdensome on executors as they do not have the luxury of time to concentrate solely on managing the deceased’s estate.
- Obtain Authority from the Supreme Court to Administer the Estate – Prior to administering the estate, the executor must apply to the Supreme Court for a grant of Probate of the Will, to enable the executor to manage the deceased’s estate. Whilst some executors attempt to lodge the documents themselves, this can be challenging and many executors eventually do seek the assistance of a probate lawyer to correctly prepare and lodge the court documents on their behalf. Our experienced probate lawyers are very efficient in this process and would be pleased to assist you with the preparation and lodgement of your Application for a Grant of Probate.
- Pay all Debts – The executor must ensure that all debts are paid from the estate. Debts include creditors, funeral expenses, income tax, fees for administering the estate and out-of-pocket expenses paid on behalf of the estate. If a beneficiary or family member opt to cover the expenses of the estate, they will be entitled to a reimbursement from the estate funds prior to distribution. The executor will more than likely be required to sell a number of the deceased’s assets in order to disburse the debts
- Distribute the Estate – Once all debts have been paid, the executor is able to attend to the distribution of the residue of the estate as per the instructions set out in the deceased’s Will.
Prior to the Executor initiating contact with the relevant people or organisations, it might be beneficial to search the deceased’s residence and try to locate a filing cabinet, folder or document case. They may hold records that show previous dealings and correspondence between the deceased and any of the contacts listed above.
This will facilitate the collection of information in relation to the deceased’s assets and liabilities and you can use these records to find out important reference numbers such as a customer reference number, policy number, Medicare number or health fund membership number.
Our qualified probate lawyers based in our Parramatta and City offices are proficient in guiding you through the process of administering the deceased’s estate from commencement to completion and help to make this time as simple and easy for you as possible.