Signature Estate Administration
The Function of Your Will
The purpose of a Last Will and Testament is to ensure that your personal assets and real property are distributed in a legal manner according to your wishes.
It is the role of your Executor to take charge of your assets, pay your debts and distribute the proceeds of your estate to your beneficiaries in the manner directed by you.
Many people mistakenly believe that personal wishes expressed in their will about their funeral arrangements such as cremation or burial, donation of organs for medical use will also be legally binding and respected by their family and friends. However wills are often not found and read until after the funeral service.
To ensure that your funeral service is conducted according to your personal wishes it is important that you pre arrange your funeral service with Signature Funeral Services.
You should make certain that your family knows where the original of your Will is located. We suggest you place a photocopy of your Will and other important documents in your Signature Funeral Services folder.
The first step the Executor will need to do is to apply to the Supreme Court for Probate of the Will. Probate will enable the named Executor to deal with the assets of the estate according to the directions in the Will.
If at present you do not have a Will, you should consider making one at your earliest convenience.
When there is no Will
Where somebody dies without a Will (or it cannot be found) they are said to die "Intestate".
In that event, a friend or relative will need to assume the role of Executor and make Application to the Supreme Court for Letters of Administration. The role of an Administrator is similar to that of an Executor appointed by a Will except that he/she must distribute the assets of the estate after payment of all liabilities in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.
Speak to a Solicitor
There are many technical aspects that need to be complied with. A Solicitor will advise the Executor of the formalities with which he/she must comply. In the event of death your Executor should contact a Solicitor as soon as possible.
While it is not necessary for your Executor to use the Solicitor who acted for you while you were alive that would be preferable if complex business arrangements are involved.
Legal fees are controlled by the Supreme Court and Solicitors charge on a fee-for-service basis. if land is involved, there are additional government registration charges. The cost of a solicitor is often nominal compared to the benefits of professional administration of the estate which ensures a speedy completion of the administration.
The process cannot start until 28 days after the death (except in special circumstances). Once all assets and liabilities are identified, it takes approximately six weeks to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
The First Appointment
Your executor will need to gather details of all the assets and debts associated with the estate. Necessary documentation includes the Will, Death Certificate, bank statements, bank books, Mortgages, Certificates of Title to land, rates notices, lease documents, shareholding details, car registration, safety deposit box details, taxation records, insurance policies, funeral account (even if pre-paid) etc. You can assist the administration by providing details of assets to your solicitor in confidence or attaching a list to your Will.
A Small Estate
Where, the estate is very small and no land is involved, a solicitor can also assist with the informal administration of the estate. You will still need the Will, Death Certificate and details of assets and liabilities as described above.
To ensure that your estate is not burdened by expensive funeral costs we recommend that you pre-arrange and pre pay your funeral service with Signature Funeral Services.
Simply call 1300 199 299 (toll free - 24/7, Australia wide) and one of our consultants will visit you to guide you through the process.