Planning for your family’s future after you’re gone is a really important legal task.

If you take the time now to make an effective legally binding Will and Testament you can save your family not only stress, but money, in what will undoubtedly be a difficult time for them.

SZ Lawyers’ Wills and Estate planning team can help:

  • Advise you in regard to estate and Probate laws
  • Prepare a will that maximises the inheritance for your family
  • Set up family and testamentary trusts
  • Advise you in regard to choosing executors and guardians
  • Minimise the chance that your will is contested and subject to litigation
  • Advise in regard to estate tax (including capital gains) and financial concerns
  • Safely store your will and other important legal documents

At the same time as considering your Will, we strongly recommend that you also put in place plans for any future incapacity through Power of Attorney and Guardianship documents. This will ensure that if you somehow become unable to make decisions about your finances, your medical treatment or living arrangements, then the person or persons who you trust to make these decisions can do so unhindered.

Are you a Will Executor?

Have you been chosen by a family member or friend to be the Executor of their Will? This means that you have been given responsibility to manage their estate according to the terms they’ve outlined in their Will and to protect their assets under the various laws and regulations that govern estate administration in Australia.

Executor Duties

An executor’s duties may include responsibilities such as:

  • Organising the funeral, notices for the paper and flowers
  • Locating the Will
  • Obtaining a copy of the Death Certificate
  • Making sure any property and assets are safe and secure
  • Determining the value of assets
  • Applying for Probate
  • Paying insurance policies, debts and taxes
  • Collecting monies belonging to the deceased from financial institutions and insurance companies
  • Collecting debts owed to the deceased
  • Lodging tax returns for the deceased and for the estate
  • Selling properties and assets
  • Reporting to beneficiaries
  • Distributing the proceeds of the estate to beneficiaries
  • Setting up trusts

Being an Executor can be overwhelming, particularly when you are grieving, but rest assured we can guide you through.

Do Executors get paid?

It depends. If you are a beneficiary of the Will it is presumed that your benefit will cover your costs. If you’re not a beneficiary then you can apply to the Supreme Court for a commission.

Do I need a Lawyer?

Estates vary in complexity and an Executor’s duties can be complicated, so it may be a good idea to get advice from a lawyer. The cost of legal advice is usually covered by the estate, not the Executors.

What is Probate?

Probate is recognition of the Will’s validity and permission from the Supreme Court for the Executors named in the Will of the deceased to carry out their duties in relation to the Estate. You will likely need a grant of Probate to deal with the assets of an estate, such as selling a property and obtaining bank funds.

What if there is no Will?

This situation is referred to as intestacy and the law determines how assets will be shared out after debts have been paid. If you are the next of kin you can apply for Letters of Administration, which will give you an authority to finalise the estate.

What if I’m not up to the job?

Just because you have been named an Executor doesn’t mean you have to accept the responsibility. If there is another Executor named, they can control of all responsibilities, or if you are the sole executor you can apply to the court to appoint someone else. You cannot change your mind later though – giving up the responsibility is final.

Contact us to find out more or to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced Wills lawyers.