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Helping the Executor of Your Estate

Friday, March 30, 2018


Role of the Executor


Taking care of your affairs after you have passed away can be a difficult job and it falls to the person named in your Will as your Executor (or old-fashioned Executrix if you appoint a woman).  If you die without a will – called being intestate –the additional burden, delay and costs of administering your estate that would fall on your family if you don’t have one.  This alone is a reason to get this document done.



Before you name a friend or relative to be your Executor, you should understand what the responsibilities would be and reflect on whether your candidate’s temperament would assist in doing the job properly and without it being an overwhelming emotional burden after your death.  Once this decision is made (though the appointee’s agreement isn’t necessary, discussion with your candidate is recommended), you should do your part to make it easier to gather in your assets, sell or dispose of your property, pay your debts, ensure your specific gifts (bequests) are received by those you intend.  It takes attention to administrative detail by the Executor who is responsible to those people who will receive anything from your estate – the beneficiaries.

Get Organised!


The number one way to help your Executor is for you to get your affairs in order as much as possible before you pass away and to get all of your materials prepared for them. 


We tend to accumulate accounts with various banks and other organizations throughout our lifetime.  Each one will need to be contacted by your executor, advised of your death with various requirements for forms and perhaps certified copies of your death certificate or Will or Certificate of Probate.  The more accounts you have, the more work it will be for your Executor. If you have accounts at various banks that you could consolidate, that would be much easier for you to do while you are alive, than for your Executor to call in.  Do you have five credit cards?  Get rid of what you don’t need now. 


Next, write down all of the information in one file.  You can use a notebook and simply record the details (bank name, branch, account number, type of account, location of where you keep cheque books or bank cards, for example) and keep it up-to-date by drawing a line through those you close and noting the date you closed it.  You must think beyond the banks though – you must try to list every organization you deal with.  The Australian Tax Office; list your tax number and your accountant’s contact information.  Do you have a pet that has a council license?  List that too as your Executor will have to contact them.  You will have to brainstorm to come up with all of the organisations you deal with to record them in your ‘Executor’s Notebook’, but imagine another person trying to pull all of that information together when the person with the inside knowledge is no longer available to ask.



Pay it Forward


Upon notification of your death, your bank accounts are frozen.  The only exception is that by request of the Executor most banks will pay the invoice for your funeral expenses by cheque made out directly to the funeral home.  This can only happen if there is one current account that has sufficient funds to cover the entire amount – consolidated nor part payments will not be made. 


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