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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Palmer

I'm an executor named in a Will, what do I do now?

As an executor named in a Will of an estate in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, you have important responsibilities and obligations to fulfill. Serving as an executor can be a complex and time-consuming role, but understanding your duties will help you navigate the process more effectively. Here are some key executor obligations in estates in NSW:

  1. Obtain Probate: Probate is the legal process of validating a will and granting the executor the authority to administer the estate. As an executor, you may need to apply for probate through the Supreme Court of NSW, unless the estate is small and does not require probate.

  2. Locate and Secure Assets: Your duty as an executor is to identify and secure the assets of the deceased. This includes property, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and any other assets mentioned in the will. Take reasonable steps to protect these assets from loss or damage.

  3. Notify Relevant Parties: Inform beneficiaries, financial institutions, government agencies, and relevant organizations about the death. This includes notifying the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Centrelink, banks, insurance companies, and utility providers.

  4. Manage Estate Finances: As an executor, you are responsible for managing the financial affairs of the estate. This includes opening a separate bank account for the estate, paying outstanding debts and taxes, and keeping accurate records of all financial transactions.

  5. Valuation of Assets: Engage professionals to assess and value the assets of the estate, such as properties, investments, and personal belongings. This valuation helps determine the estate's overall value for tax and distribution purposes.

  6. Paying Debts and Expenses: Use the estate's funds to pay off any outstanding debts, such as mortgages, loans, credit card bills, funeral expenses, and administration costs. Ensure that debts are settled appropriately and within legal requirements.

  7. Distribution of Assets: Once all debts, expenses, and taxes are paid, you must distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the instructions in the will. Ensure that distributions are made accurately and in compliance with the law.

  8. Keep Detailed Records: Maintain accurate records of all transactions, communications, and decisions made during the administration of the estate. This includes financial records, correspondence, and any other relevant documentation. These records may be required for accounting, taxation, or legal purposes.

  9. Act in the Best Interest of the Estate: As an executor, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. This means making decisions impartially, avoiding conflicts of interest, and acting prudently and responsibly.

  10. Seek Professional Assistance: Executors are often faced with legal, financial, and tax complexities. It is advisable to seek professional advice from lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors to ensure compliance with legal requirements and to navigate any challenges that may arise during the administration process.

Remember, being an executor can be a demanding role, so it's essential to seek guidance from professionals to fulfill your obligations effectively. The expertise of legal and financial professionals will help ensure that you carry out your duties in accordance with the law and protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Contact us today so we can help guide you through this process.

Please note that this is not intended to be legal advice, rather general information or creating a retainer agreement with Palmer Legal. For legal advice specific to your needs please contact Palmer Legal on or +61 2 4869 1392.

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