My Parent, Spouse, Child or Friend have died. What do I do?
Losing a close loved one is very hard to cope with. You have to work through it day at a time. First things first. Is there a Will? Where is the Will? Who is the Executor? If there is no Will who is the next of kin? The executor in consultation with the family decide the funeral arrangements. If there is no Will the next of kin is the person responsible. You need to contact the undertaker and organise the funeral.
So far as seeing the lawyer is concerned, each person and family are different. Some need clarity as what to do straight away. Some are barely coping with the grief and need time before facing the task. That is totally fine and you decide when you are ready. Generally nothing can be done until the death certificate is issued and this usually takes about 4 weeks. Once the death certificate arrives and you are ready, make the appointment to see us. We need a copy of the Will, the death certificate and papers that can identify the assets that need to be dealt with. You do not need to be business minded, we can take you through that, you just need to mindful of how the deceased would want things done. We will take you through what is required, explain the steps and advise you of the estimated costs involved. To assist you with some questions you may have we provide the following general comments.
An executor’s duties may include responsibilities such as:
- Organising the funeral, notices for the paper, flowers
- 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
Being an Executor can be overwhelming, particularly when you are grieving, but rest assured we can guide you through.
Do Executors get paid?
It depends. If you are a beneficiary of the will it is presumed that your benefit will cover your costs. If you’re not a beneficiary then you can apply to the Supreme Court for commission.
Do I need a Lawyer?
Estates vary in complexity and Executor’s duties can be complicated, so it may be a good idea to get advice from a lawyer. The cost of legal advice is usually covered by the estate, not the Executors.
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.
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’m not up to the job?
Just because you have been named an Executor doesn’t 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.
Contact us to find out more or to arrange an appointment with us.