A Will is a legal document that states how the deceased person’s ‘estate’ is to be distributed after their death.
Once probate has been granted, the Executor of the Will is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the Will maker as specified in the Will. This is a position of great trust and must be carried out with diligence and integrity.
The executor must act in the best interests of the estate and all of the beneficiaries, and cannot act in his or her own interests if they are not the same as those of the estate and the beneficiaries. The executor’s role is often referred to as a trustee or fiduciary role.
The executor is responsible for managing and protecting all of the assets of the estate until they are distributed to the beneficiaries. He or she is also responsible for ensuring that all of the liabilities of the estate are paid where appropriate.
Where there is more than one executor they should consult with each other and agree on a course of action. Executors should keep full and accurate records of how the estate has been managed and distributed and should provide a summary of the financial transactions for the estate to the beneficiaries.
If property is to be sold as part of the estate, a professional valuation is usually required to establish a correct fair market value, and also in calculating the taxes and other levies payable to the government revenue department on a regular basis.
If the person has not left a Will, the estate is shared under a formula set by law.
If there are no close relatives, there is a chance the estate could be paid to a State or Territory government.
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