Acting as an executor of a Will can be a challenging experience, says Trent McGregor, Wills and Estates lawyer with Robertson Hyetts, who adds that “a perfect storm of legal, financial, and emotional issues can lead to a turbulent process for all concerned.”
An executor is responsible for ensuring that the testator’s Will is administered in accordance with the law. “Executors need to do everything, including choosing the funeral director, obtaining Probate if required, dealing with real estate and bank accounts, closing online accounts like Facebook, sorting out tax and Centrelink matters, and defending the Will if there’s a challenge.”
The executor should start by locating the Testator’s last original Will, and gathering information about the Testator’s assets. “Bank statements are useful because they can provide information about other assets, like share dividends or superannuation pension payments.”
The next steps are critical, but will depend on the situation. Many first-time executors are keen to obtain a checklist of their duties, but each estate is different, and checklists should only be used cautiously, said Trent.
“It’s better to have a lawyer in your corner to advise on next steps, rather than rely on a generic checklist. What many executors don’t realise is that they can expose their own assets to the testator’s creditors if the estate is not managed correctly.”
Having a lawyer who is both empathetic and experienced can ensure that closure is achieved quickly and efficiently.
For an obligation-free discussion, please contact Robertson Hyetts on 5434 6666 (Bendigo) or 5472 1588 (Castlemaine).