The role of an executor or administrator is essentially one of collecting in the assets, paying the debts and holding all of the remaining estate on behalf of beneficiaries before making distributions to them at the appropriate time.
Generally, executors of an estate have a number of general administrative duties and responsibilities including:
- Locating the last Will of the deceased;
- Making funeral arrangements – unless attended to by family or friends;
- Notifying all necessary persons of the death of the deceased;
- Locating and identifying beneficiaries;
- Collecting and getting in the assets of the deceased;
- Paying the debts of the deceased;
- Keeping detailed records of all estate dealings;
- Attending to the tax affairs of the deceased and the estate;
- Distributing the balance estate to those entitled as beneficiaries under the will.
If you are an executor don’t think that you have to take this all on alone. Contact us for advice about how to get started and what aspects of the process we can help you with.
From a practical perspective, an executor should attend to the following as soon as possible:
- Obtain a copy of the death certificate;
- Open a bank account in the name of the deceased’s estate. Alternatively. a solicitor’s trust account may be used;
- Determine the assets and liabilities of the deceased – this may require consultation with the deceased’s lawyers, accountants and financial planners;
- Make application to the court for a grant of probate or representation. Llegal advice should be obtained as to whether or not a grant is required;
- Determine whether assets should be distributed directly to the beneficiaries or sold and the proceeds distributed. Legal, tax and financial advice should be sought before making such decisions, as there can be significant financial implications depending on the option chosen.
The estate administration team at Clifford Gouldson Lawyers can help you navigate the process of estate administration with practical assistance and guidance each step of the way.