I am the executor of a will. What do I do when the testator dies?

It is never easy when a loved one passes away. Amidst the confusion and grief, you are also appointed to act as their executor. So what does that mean for you exactly?

The Role Of An Executor   

It is likely that your loved one approached you and asked for you to act as their executor in the event they die. You may have agreed to do so without fully understanding what this entails.

Simply put, an executor is responsible for making sure a person’s final wishes are carried out after they die. Those wishes are found in their Will. If a Will is valid, carrying out their wishes is easy – by following the instructions within the Will.

Part of your role also includes managing the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. This process is referred to as ‘administering an estate’. Some examples of your responsibilities include:

  • Notifying the beneficiaries of the Will
  • Paying or passing on debts and liabilities from the estate
  • Everyday tasks such as arranging pet care, cancelling subscriptions (Netflix, food delivery), redirecting mail, etc.
  • Distributing or selling the remaining assets

How do I start the process?

The first step of the process is to locate the person’s Will. They may have advised you where it is located, which could include the solicitor’s office that prepared the Will, or their bank safety box.

The next step would be to apply to the Supreme Court for a ‘grant of probate’, or Probate Order. You can either do this yourself or appoint a solicitor to do this for you. This Probate Order is confirmation from the Court that:

  1. The Will is legally valid; and
  2. You are authorised to administer the deceased person’s estate

A copy of the Probate Order is required before administering a deceased estate. For example, the bank would request a copy of the probate order before it releases monies from the deceased person’s accounts. If the deceased person had a small estate you can also apply for the Probate Office to prepare the paperwork on your behalf.

Death Certificate

Another important document to have with you is the death certificate. This is issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and you can order it from a funeral director. The death certificate is required as part of the application for grant of probate. It is also required by legal or financial institutions when processing matters such as:

  • Requesting payouts from insurance agencies
  • Filing the deceased person’s final tax return
  • Burying or cremating the remains
  • Transferring property title

Contact W Legal Group

The team at W Legal Group understand that this process may be complex, particularly during a grievous time. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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