Most people have a general understanding of what is involved with being the executor or administrator of an Estate. Generally speaking, an executor has the duty to gather in the assets and determine the liabilities of an Estate, and distribute the remaining Estate property in accordance with the terms of the Will (or the rules of intestacy where there is no Will).
In our experience, however, many people fail to appreciate the full extent of the work that is involved in administering an Estate. In fact, clients of ours who come to us for assistance in administering an Estate who have acted as an executor previously, often remark that they did not know ‘what they were in for’ the first time around.
Some of the steps that commonly need to be taken in the administration of an estate include:
- liaising with banks in order to have them release any funds held by the deceased;
- liaising with superannuation companies to ascertain any superannuation or insurance benefits that the deceased may have had;
- dealing with the transfer and/or sale of real property;
- the transfer or sale of motor vehicles;
- transferring or selling shares;
- attending to outstanding taxation matters.
In many Estates, the executor will need to obtain what is called a ‘grant of Probate’ from the Supreme Court in order to properly administer the deceased’s Estate. A grant of Probate is essentially the Court’s confirmation that the deceased’s Will is valid, and it gives the executor the authority to deal with the deceased’s property on behalf of his or her Estate. A similar grant called a grant of ‘Letters of Administration’ may be required in cases where the deceased did not leave a valid last Will.
It is often the case, even in seemingly ‘straightforward’ estates, that the executor or administrator will need to comply with complex requirements in order to finalise the deceased’s affairs. The administration of an Estate can be even further complicated by factors such as differing requirements between institutions, disputes between beneficiaries, claims by creditors of the Estate, etc. We recommend that, if you have been appointed as the executor of an Estate or are a family member of someone who has passed away without a Will, you can visit our website or contact us on (07) 3262 6122 to discuss your rights, duties and obligations.