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FAQ - Estate Issues

In simple terms, the executor is the person chosen by the will maker in his or her will to attend to the administration of the estate of the will maker, after the will maker has passed away. That is, the executor has the job of making sure what the deceased said in his or her will actually happens.

The person who passed away is considered ‘intestate’.  The way intestacy is approached differs from state to state, but broadly speaking, an eligible ‘administrator’ may be appointed to administer the estate.  Each state has its own statutory scheme for distributing the estate amongst beneficiaries in the case of intestacy.

This can be a complex area of law and it is important to get some legal advice before taking any significant steps.

The job of the executor starts with making arrangements for the funeral of the deceased.

Broadly speaking, the role involves locating the valid will, notifying organisations such as banks and other financial institutions of the passing of the deceased person, determining the assets and liabilities of the deceased person, applying to the Supreme Court for a grant of representation (if necessary), paying the liabilities of the estate, addressing the taxation obligations, and dividing up the residue of the estate amongst the beneficiaries (or trustee).

There are a number of factors that determine the complexity of the executor’s duties.  Those factors include the type and value of assets the deceased person, the terms of the will, and the age of the beneficiaries when the will maker passed away.  It can be a simple job or an involved role.

A grant of probate is a legal document that authorises the executor to administer the estate of the deceased person in accordance with the terms of the will.  If there was no will, the potential administrator would apply for ‘Letters of Administration’ which would authorise them to act in relation to the intestate estate in the same way the Grant of Probate would.  For example, if real property has to be transferred into the name of a beneficiary or shares need to be sold and the proceeds divided up amongst the beneficiaries.

We bill on a ‘time spent’ basis to assist you with the administration of the estate.  Generally speaking, the complexity of the estate determines the cost of administering the estate.  There are also disbursements like the Court filing fee.

It is important to note that the legal costs incurred in the administration of an estate are payable by the estate.

To obtain an estimate, select the ‘Request a quote’ button on the Wills and Estates service page and submit your completed form.  Alternatively, if you would like to speak with a team member, we are happy to answer your questions and provide you with an estimate.