In our previous articles we have considered topics such as the specifics of how superannuation is treated on death, the assets covered by your estate (and what is not included) and the use of testamentary trusts.
In this final article in the series we consider some of the practical aspects relating to preparing a will and administering the estate.
Who will be the Executor?
The Executor of an estate is charged with the responsibility of implementing the terms of the will. This includes selling assets, distributing the proceeds to the beneficiaries and ensuring that tax returns are lodged.
It is most common for spouses to act as Executors for each other and then for adult children to assume this role on the death of both parents. Often a sibling or family friend is appointed as Executor if there are no adult children. However, for a complex estate, you may wish to consider appointing an appropriately skilled person to act as co-Executor. Saward Dawson partners are often appointed to assist either as co-Executors or as specialist advisers to the estate.
An Executor may be entitled to a fee for their services but usually a family member does this without charge. You should consider whether professionals who act as executors should charge fees as professional advisers or the statutory fees which are usually expressed as a percentage of the assets administered.
Guardianship for children
The main concern of a parent is the welfare of their children. So it is important to consider who will take on the role of guardian (replacement parents) in the event of the death of both parents. A grandparent may be a logical choice but their health of financial capacity may make this difficult. The important thing is that you nominate who you think would be best for your children.
You should also consider in the will making specific financial provision to the nominated guardian for things like a larger car or renovations to their home to enable them to better accommodate your children’s needs.
What is probate?
Probate is the process where the role of the Executor and their right to deal with assets is confirmed by the relevant statutory body (in Victoria this is the Supreme Court). Obtaining probate requires the lodgement of the will, death certificate and a list of assets. Once probate has been granted then the Executor is empowered to deal with assets and can then set about either selling or transferring assets in accordance with the will. A solicitor is usually engaged to attend to the granting of probate.
The most important thing with estate planning is to stop putting it off and to develop your plan and get an effective will in place. Even a simple will is better than dying intestate (without a valid will). But there are many things to consider and we trust that this series of articles has helped in understanding some of these.
We have found that client value highly our involvement as advisers who know and understand their affairs and can explain the various options and implications. There are some tax planning opportunities but most importantly, we work with clients to put in place a plan that will see their assets distributed as they would want. We are also experienced in estate administration and assist either in a co-Executor role or as professional advisers. We would love the opportunity to discuss how we can assist you in this important area.