I’m the Executor of an Estate; What Happens Now?

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Executing an estate is an important responsibility. You may not have known that you were nominated as the executor of an estate in a will and may feel overwhelmed.

Rafton Family Lawyers are here to help you understand your role and make the best decisions moving forward

What does it mean to be an executor of an estate?

Probate is the legal process where the court validates a will and grants the executor with the power to handle the deceased’s affairs.

Probate is necessary when proof is required for the executor to act on behalf of the deceased; for example: if the executor needs to access the deceased’s bank account to distribute it to the beneficiaries of the will.

It is the executor’s responsibility to make the funeral arrangements according to the wishes of the deceased. You will need to make sure that religious requirements are met and hear the families wishes for laying the body to rest.

The executor will need to consult the will to understand if the deceased left instructions to be cremated or disposed of in another way.

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Calling in the estate is the process of transferring the deceased’s assets into the name of the executor. You will need the grant of probate, death certificate, and other transitional forms for each type of asset.

It is also the executor’s responsibility to collect any debts owed to the deceased unless the right to collect these debts ceased when the testator died. Joint assets held by the deceased and another party are not called in as part of the estate as ownership is given to the other party.

The executor may be liable if the assets of the estate become invalid or depreciate significantly because they were not distributed appropriately or at the right time. It is important to seek professional advice and keep track of all accounts and assets outlined in the will.

The executor must manage the deceased’s accounts and pay the debts of the estate. You will need to organise for these debts to be paid with funds that have not been left to a beneficiary.

We can help you to manage any remaining debts of the estate so that all funds are distributed appropriately.

Once the above tasks have been completed, the deceased’s estate will need to be distributed to the beneficiaries within 12 months of the death of the deceased (NSW). This time frame varies between states.

You will need to contact the beneficiaries of the will and arrange for them to take ownership of the assets left to them in the will.

What should I do next?

The role of the executor can be complicated and time-consuming. It is normal to be unsure of what you need to do. You do not have to accept the role of being an executor and can nominate another executor if you are unable to take on the responsibility.

Rafton Family Lawyers are here to answer your questions and help you fulfil the requirements of the will correctly. If you would like more information, please contact one of our wills and estates lawyers now.

Read our plain English handbooks

These fact sheets are designed to provide an overview of the relevant issues and systems so that you have a better understanding of the process.

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