Are you an Executor of an Estate? This is what you need to know

tips for executors

Taking on the responsibility of being an executor of a deceased person’s estate can be daunting.  If they were a close friend or family member, there may be considerable emotional issues to deal with as well as feeling the need to do the right thing for the deceased person and their family.

So, as you start the process, what do you need to know?  From our experience in administering estates over many years, we believe these are the five most important things for an executor administrator to be aware of at the beginning of the administration of the estate.

  1. The original will should be located to ascertain who the executor/s is/are and to confirm there are no burial, cremation or other funeral directions in the will. Occasionally a willmaker may not advise prior executors that they have updated their will and/or replaced the original executor.  So obtaining a copy of the latest will is critical.
  2. While the executor has the power to make decisions if a dispute arises, the funeral is usually arranged by the family of the deceased – particularly if the will contains no special provisions relating to funeral proceedings.
  3. Any invoice for funeral expenses can be taken to the bank where the deceased holds their bank account and the bank will pay it from the deceased’s funds (even where the deceased’s bank accounts have been frozen).
  4. The costs of the wake and any headstone costs are not costs of the estate but are personal family costs. These costs will not be automatically paid by the deceased person’s bank like the funeral costs. If necessary, these costs can still be paid from the estate’s funds provided the consent of all the residuary beneficiaries is obtained.
  5. You should not deposit any large sums of money (such as the refund of a refundable accommodation deposit (bond) from a nursing home) into the deceased’s bank account without first obtaining legal advice. Doing so may lead to the need to obtain a grant of probate if the value of the account is over the threshold set by the bank where they require probate to be produced to deal with the funds of the deceased. Not every estate requires probate to be obtained, particularly where an estate is uncomplicated and of small value.

If you have been appointed an executor and are in doubt, contact a member of our Estate Administration Team at Fox and Thomas.