Writing a Will is one of the most important parts of your succession planning. 

But often we forget to educate those to whom we are designating responsibility.

After you die, everything you own, and owe, is called your estate and the personal representatives appointed in your Will to administer your property are known as executors – an onerous but crucial duty.

An executor must find out what assets and liabilities the deceased had and, if the estate includes land or certain assets worth more than $15,000, they must apply to the High Court for a grant of ‘probate’ which confirms the executor’s authority to deal with the estate.

Only then can they pay any debts out of the estate funds and distribute the balance to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will.

However, it pays to be aware that executors can beheld personally liable for their actions if an estate is distributed within six months of the grant of probate and successful claims are subsequently made against the estate.

When you die without a Will, also known as dying ‘intestate’, your personal representatives may need to apply for ‘Letters of Administration’. The administrator appointed by the court must follow the provisions of the Administration Act 1969 which determine how your property is distributed.

This outcome may not align with your wishes and may result in disputes over your estate.

Whether you are an executor or an administrator, you have a very important role in administering an estate. It is recommended you seek legal advice to ensure you discharge your duties correctly and avoid headaches down the track. We will work with you to provide sound expert advice that will help you through the big moments, and the everyday ones.