What is a deceased estate?

The term “Estate” usually refers to all the affairs of a person that remain outstanding at their death.  It includes assets and liabilities.

Executor role

An executor is a person nominated in a Will as responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased and administering the Estate.

The executor is answerable to the wishes of the deceased as expressed in the Will.  The executor must act in the interest of the beneficiary ahead of their own but is subject to the directions in the Will rather than direction by the beneficiaries.

The executor is answerable to the Court.  Beneficiaries can have the Court order an executor to deal with the Estate promptly and diligently and to correct any wrongful distributions made by an executor.

It is not necessary or typical to have a formal reading of the Will.Do you really need everybody to be advised at the same time about what is in the Will?  Does there need to be a meeting for that purpose?  Usually, copies of the Will are sent to those people who have a genuine interest.

Probate

The Supreme Court registers Wills and supervises the conduct of Estates to regulate the proper transfer of wealth on death.  If satisfied, the Court Registry certifies the Will as in order and the authority of the executor to act in accordance with the Will.  This is called “proving” the Will or Probate.

Once the Probate is granted or it is determined that Probate is not necessary, the executor can begin to finalise the Estate.

No Will

Where a person dies without a valid Will, one or more of the next of kin (or a trustee for them) can apply to the Court for authority, similar to Probate, to allow the Estate to be administered. This authority is called Letters of Administration and the person authorised is the administrator.  When someone dies without a valid Will, the way that their assets are distributed is set by legislation. The legislation effectively writes a “claytons” Will.