Being an executor of a loved one’s Will isn’t easy. When you are mourning the loss of a loved one, you also have to shoulder the responsibility of distributing their assets per their wishes. It’s a huge responsibility, and many legal and moral values are attached to every step you take to accomplish it. You will have to carry forward with your executor duties even before you overcome the loss. However, remember that the deceased trusted you for one of the important tasks, and they have many valid reasons for their decision.
Since being an executor is emotionally and physically challenging, you may make mistakes leading to delays or other issues. With this article, we want to guide you through this complex and stressful process, so that there is no room for errors. Before that, let’s understand what is probate and then proceed to the seven essential steps you can take as an executor for seamless proceedings-
What is Probate?
The probate is a legal document that authorises the executor of a Will to administer it per the deceased’s wishes. The Supreme Court provides Probate in Queensland or elsewhere in Australia, so if you are an executor of someone’s Will, you will be required to gather all the documents and apply at the Supreme Court for the grant of probate.
7 Essential Steps to Take as an Executor for a Will
File the Will
As executor of an estate, you must first file the original copy of the deceased’s Will with the local probate court. You should also make multiple copies so you can easily distribute them to those who need them.
Notify the Beneficiaries
After filing the Will, you must notify all designated beneficiaries about their inheritance and provide them with copies of the Will if necessary. In some states of Australia, you may be required to send notices to the beneficiaries as an intimation of their inheritance. You can check with the Supreme Court of your area to find more information about handling the notification as per the laws.
Access Estate Assets
Once all beneficiaries receive the notifications, you can begin accessing estate assets such as bank accounts and investment portfolios. It is important to note that any money withdrawn from these accounts must go towards settling debts or paying taxes before being distributed among heirs or beneficiaries according to instructions outlined in the Will.
Pay Debts & Taxes
After accessing estate assets, it’s time to pay off any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased individual or their estate. It includes funeral costs, medical bills, and any remaining income tax owed by the deceased person at the time of death. The executor should make these payments directly from estate funds. However, you may sometimes have to dip into personal accounts if there needs to be more money in estate assets alone to cover these costs.
Update the Beneficiaries
Since you are handling so much of the deceased’s estate and finances, there are chances that the beneficiaries sometimes misunderstand the intentions. However, you can always avoid confusion by informing the beneficiaries about all the happenings. It will help them trust your intentions and provide you with a stress-free environment for administering the estate.
Once you pay off all the debts, it’s time to distribute the remaining assets amongst heirs or beneficiaries according to the instructions outlined in the Will (if applicable). Depending on how complex a person’s estate might be, this could take weeks or even months. However, taking care of this task helps ensure that everyone involved gets what they are entitled to without delay or dispute over assets not correctly accounted for.
Once the executor finishes distributing the assets and paying off the debts, they can close the estate by completing the appropriate paperwork. After that, the local probate court shall declare it officially closed and discharged from any further liability resulting from its management by the estate executor.
Consult the Lawyer
Unless there are specific instructions included in the Will, it is up to the executor to decide which attorney to hire. However, you must choose the right person for the task because an attorney can help you easily pace through the legal formalities and acquire the grant of probate at the earliest.
Attorneys advise executors on matters requiring immediate attention, such as the application of statutes of limitations, notification of beneficiaries, disposition of assets, and meeting dependents’ needs. Without the help of a lawyer, it’s easy to get your head around it and even face personal liability for your mistakes.
Serving as an executor carries many responsibilities and tasks. Some of these can feel overwhelming, but knowing the right things to do ahead of time can help make settling an estate much less daunting than it appears at first glance. By following these seven steps outlined above, anyone serving in this capacity can rest assured, knowing they are doing their best to honour their loved one’s final wishes while also meeting their fiduciary duties under state law.
If you need help finding the right people to guide you through the executor duties, we suggest approaching the Probate Consultants. They are a team of empathetic individuals who understand the emotional turmoil you are going through and are willing to shoulder the responsibility of filing the probate proceedings for you. Due to their immense experience in the field, they can help secure probate at the earliest and most reasonable prices.