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Administering an estate

Administering an estate can be overwhelming due to the number and complexity of tasks that need to be completed as well as the time it takes to complete those tasks. Executors have a right to seek assistance, while retaining their decision-making authority. In our experience, it is very rare for an executor to settle an estate completely on their own.

There are three main sources of assistance:

1.  A Solicitor can prepare and lodge the application for probate with the relevant Supreme Court. They can handle many of the aspects of administering an estate, however, will normally refer taxation and accounting work to other professionals. If the estate includes any real estate which needs to be sold, a property lawyer or conveyancer will need to be engaged for conveyancing services. Most of the legwork and running around is done by the executor, with the solicitor handling the legal aspects and correspondence.

a. Fees are charged either as an hourly rate or as a package for executor services, with additional fees for items like court fees, application fees and similar.

2.  An Accountant can lodge tax returns on behalf of the will-maker and estate. They do not handle other aspects of estate administration, and would refer this work to other professionals. Most of the paperwork sorting is done by the executor.

a. Fees are charged either as an hourly rate or as a package for tax returns, with additional fees for any outsourced work. 

b. The reconstruction of cost base records is often completed by an accountant. These fees are commonly charged by
the hour.

3.  A Trustee company – such as Equity Trustees – generally covers all aspects of the administration process, taking care of both legal and taxation requirements. They are your ‘one-stop-shop’ with expertise employed directly. Administering estates since 1888, we provide the experience to ensure steps occur in the correct order with input and coordination from in-house experts, and in a timely manner to avoid pressure from beneficiaries to finalise the estate. Trustee companies also remain up-to-date with any regulatory changes.
a. Fees are charged as a percentage of the estate’s final value, plus disbursements.

b. Income commission is charged on income collected by the trustee company during the estate administration.

c. Separate fees are charged for the preparation of income tax returns.

More information about estate planning and wills can be found here on our website. Or you can call and speak to us about all your estate planning needs, including protection for your beneficiaries and ensuring specific arrangements of how your will and super can work together.

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