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My Loved One Has Died. What Do I Do?

by | Apr 10, 2021 | Wills & Estates

After the death of a loved one, it is important that you take the time to grieve for your loss. This emotional time can be made more stressful for some as there are legal steps that need to be taken during this difficult time.  Finalising someone’s affairs and honouring their wishes can be challenging and confronting during your grief.

In dealing with someone’s estate, there are questions you need to ask with each answer providing a different path to take.

Who will deal with this?

An executor is a person appointed by the deceased in his or her Will to administer the estate or if the deceased died without a Will, an administrator will administer the estate.  An administrator is usually the deceased’s next of kin.

Is there a Will?

If there is a valid Will, it will provide instructions on how your loved one wished for their estate to be dealt with. It its simplest form, it will identify who the executor/s is and who is to receive the estate.

If someone has died without leaving a valid Will, they will have died “intestate” and the estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy.  The laws of intestacy in Victoria establish the order of priority for potential beneficiaries of an estate. This can be complicated and we would suggest that where someone has died without a valid Will, legal advice be obtained.

What are my responsibilities as an executor/administrator?

Your role as an executor or administration is to do what is required to wrap up your loved one’s personal, financial and legal affairs after they have passed away.  Some of the responsibilities associated with these roles include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Identifying the assets and liabilities of the estate and where possible protect the assets (eg: safe storage of jewelry, maintain relevant insurance, etc);
  • Apply to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Representation (if needed);
  • Redeem the assets and pay all liabilities (inc tax);
  • Attend to all challenges made against the estate; and
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the Will or, in accordance with the laws of intestacy.

If you do not wish to be an executor or administrator, you do not need to accept this role but you should seek legal advice before making this decision.

What’s next?

Many assets of an estate cannot be dealt with without a Grant of Representation being provided.  A Grant of Representation is a legal document issued by the Supreme Court, which enables the executor or administrator to deal with the estate assets.  It allows the deceased’s money held in banks, managed funds and so forth, to be collected, their debts to be paid, and their property to be sold or transferred.

Nevett Ford can help

Your role as an executor or administrator can be overwhelming.  Nevett Ford has worked for many years assisting people with the administration of their loved one’s estates and can provide you with the guidance needed during this difficult process.  We can assist you throughout the entire process and will ease the burden you may be facing during an already difficult time.  Please contact our Wills and Estate Lawyers in Melbourne on 03 9614 7111 or email at melbourne@nevettford.com.au.