Frequently asked questions

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    What happens to the estate if there is no Will?

    A person is said to have passed away intestate. Their assets will be distributed according to a formula and the order beneficiaries receive distributions may differ from state to state. 

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    What happens if the deceased has debts and liabilities?

    The Executor must determine if the deceased had any outstanding debts and pay them from the estate. This includes funeral expenses. 

     
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    What does an Executor do?

    The Executor has many responsibilities including locating the Will, establishing and managing trusts, organising the funeral and looking after daily affairs such as the care of pets. They also need to lodge the deceased estate tax return and defend the Will against challenges. Find out more about the Executor’s duties.
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    What happens to the deceased’s business?

    The Executor will deal with the business according to the Estate Plan. The first step is to determine whether it is a Sole Trader, Partnership or Company. If required, it will be their responsibility to wind up the business and sell its assets. 


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    When can the estate be distributed?

    The process of administering the estate can be a long one. After Grant of Probate has been obtained, it may take many months to administer. Access indicative timings here.


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    Should I be an Executor?

    Even if you have been appointed Executor, it is not a position you have to accept. The role can be time-consuming, challenging and emotionally draining. If you wish to relinquish the role or receive expert support, talk to Equity Trustees  about how we can help.


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    What is Probate?

    Probate is a document that certifies that the Will is valid and gives the Executor approval to administer it. Without probate, the Executor cannot transfer assets.


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    What are Letters of Administration?

    If a person passes away without a Will, the court may approve a close relative to administer the estate. This is called Letters of Administration. This may also occur if the appointed Executor is no longer alive. 


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    Who is permitted a copy of the Will?

    During the estate administration process anyone named as beneficiary in the Will can request a copy of it. Any other person, such as a creditor, who has a claim on the Estate may request a copy. After probate the Will becomes a public document lodged with the Supreme Court.