The death of a loved one is very traumatic and the administration of their affairs, having to deal with financial institutions, selling property and administering the Estate can be stressful for grieving family and relatives.
One of the first things loved ones should do is determine who the deceased appointed to be Executor of their Estate. If the deceased person has left a Will, an Executor will be appointed to be the deceased’s personal representative in administering their Estate. An Executor will ensure that the wishes set out in the deceased person's Will are carried out upon their death.
The first duty of the Executor is to arrange the funeral. It is important that the arrangements for the funeral are appropriate bearing in mind the wishes of the deceased, as expressed in the Will or in the absence of the Will, as expressed personally to family or friends. Whoever arranges the funeral is entitled to reimbursement of the expenses out the Estate in priority to all other claims against the Estate.
The duties of an Executor may include:
- Attending to funeral arrangements;
- Locating and examining the Will. The deceased's Will may be with their personal papers at home, or held in the safe custody of their Solicitor, or left with a friend or relative;
- If the deceased has appointed guardians for orphaned children, arrangements will need to be made for their care and welfare;
- Arrangements may also need to be made for pets of the deceased;
- Securing the assets of the Estate.
- Administration of the Estate cannot commence until a Death Certificate has been issued, of which the funeral home will make the necessary arrangements. It generally takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks for the Certificate to be issued, at which time the Executor can commence the process to finalise the Estate, which may include:
- Obtaining a Grant of Probate from the Supreme Court of Queensland if required. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the appropriate application that should be made and as to whether a grant of probate or grant of representation is required.
- Verifying, valuing and collecting assets of the deceased. There may need to be consultation with the deceased’s accountant, legal representatives and financial advisors to fully ascertain the extent of the deceased’s Estate;
- Identifying and verifying the deceased's debts;
- Locating and advising beneficiaries of their entitlements as set out in the Will;
- Paying debts and tax liabilities of the deceased person from funds in their Estate;
- Investing surplus funds for the benefit of beneficiaries;
- Seeking instructions from beneficiaries;
- Dealing with disputes over the provisions of the Will;
- Obtaining income and land tax clearances;
- Transferring real property;
- Preparing final income tax returns for the deceased and the Estate;
- Making a final distribution of assets in the Estate to beneficiaries.
In the process of identifying the assets of the Estate, the Executor should ensure that all assets are appropriately secured and insured, which will preserve them while waiting for finalisation of the Estate.
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This fact sheet is provided as a general guide only and should not be used or relied upon by any person without obtaining legal advice in relation to their own circumstances.