When someone you love passes away, your life changes forever. If you are appointed as an Executor for a deceased estate, you may find yourself in a position of responsibility that you have not previously experienced. Loss is difficult for everyone, and while you are grieving the added pressure of uncertainly or not knowing where to start dealing with deceased estate processes, can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
There are very strict legal requirements for Executors, and it is best to seek advice early to avoid any unintended complications, additional expenses or delays which can cause unnecessary anguish for family members or beneficiaries.
Circumstances for every deceased estate are different, and our team is here to provide the clarity and reassurance you need to carry out your role as Executor.
1. A fair and transparent approach
Seeking specialised legal advice is the most important first step for managing a deceased estate, however, we know from experience that many Executors and family members have concerns about costs. At Kelly Kelly Legal we deliver certainty by providing upfront estimates of fees (which, it is important to know, are paid from the estate, not by the Executor).
2. The importance of the right advice
Getting the right help and advice can make a big difference and the sooner you have an initial consultation the better. It does not matter whether Kelly Kelly Legal prepared the deceased person’s Will or not, our process includes locating the original Will on your behalf. What matters most is that Executors receive the support they need to understand the issues that need to be addressed immediately (such as attending to funeral instructions) and those that can wait until later.
At your initial consultation we outline the responsibilities of your role as Executor, identify what is likely to be required as part of the estate and quietly get the ball rolling behind the scenes. This can save several months of ongoing accountability and prevent unnecessary extra costs. For example, we can help you implement proactive strategies that will avoid wasting assets or income associated with the estate (for which the Executor can be held personally liable) to finalise the estate without delay.
3. Your role as Executor
Your role as Executor is to ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out according to the deceased person’s wishes. These may include making funeral arrangements, collecting assets, paying debts, and distributing the proceeds of the estate to beneficiaries nominated in the Will. The six main duties of an Executor include:
- Applying for Probate/Letters of Administration (if necessary)
- Preserving the assets of the estate
- Determining the assets of the estate and paying liabilities
- Defending the estate during any legal proceedings
- Managing the deceased person’s tax affairs
- Distributing the assets of the estate
Our role as legal support is to assist Executors and this may include helping:
- Make funeral arrangements (including facilitating access to the deceased person’s bank account to pay funeral expenses when the accounts are ordinarily frozen);
- Locate the original Will;
- Pay immediate expenses (we recommend mail is redirected to our office to help manage bills as they arise);
- Notify relevant organisations such as ATO, Centrelink and Banks (we also collaborate with aligned professionals such as financial planners and accountants to ensure affairs are in order and to avoid any surprises);
- Liaise with life insurance and superannuation organisations; and
- Lodge Probate and Letters of Administration (if necessary).
For the peace of mind that comes with a clear path of action for managing a deceased estate, we encourage you to contact us for an obligation free appointment. We can outline the process and documentation requirements and answer the many questions you may have.
The first step is to make a time to have a chat with a solicitor from Kelly Kelly Legal.
Our Estates Team has more than 30 years of experience helping Executors and families with clear and compassionate advice about the most appropriate way forward. Contact us on 08 8664 1162 or email email@example.com to arrange a confidential meeting today.
On a personal note…
You may feel you want to finalise the estate as soon as possible, or you may wish to grieve and wait until later to make arrangements. This is such a personal decision, and either way we are here to guide you through what you need to do… when you are ready.
Kelly Morgan – Principal Solicitor
At Kelly Kelly Legal our ultimate goal is to deliver certainty by providing upfront estimates of fees (which, it is important to know, are paid from the estate, not by the Executor).
In our next article we outline the required documentation for administering a deceased estate.
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