I have been appointed as an executor in a Will – I am not sure what I have to do?

An executor is a person named in a Will to “step into the shoes” of the deceased person. They are nominated to be the person to assume responsibility of the deceased’s assets for the purposes of getting them in and distributing them in accordance with the terms of the Will. The executor also assumes the responsibility for dealing with the liabilities of the estate.

It is an important role but the prospect of it doesn’t need to fill you with anxiety. If the time comes when you need to take up the role of executor, the best thing to do is to contact us and we can guide you through the process and minimise any stress.

What is Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a legal document issued under seal by the Supreme Court of South Australia authenticating the executor’s right to administer the estate. Whilst a Will gives certain rights to an executor, it is quite another thing to expect third parties to be prepared to acknowledge those rights or accept that what you are relying on was, in fact, the last will of the deceased.  The formal proof of those matters is provided by the Grant of Probate.

The Grant gives protection to the executor in certain circumstances. However, its most practical application is that it enables the executor to deal with the various institutions to get in the assets of the estate.

By way of example, if the deceased person owned land, you can easily understand that the Lands Titles Office would need to see something formal to prove someone’s entitlement to have the property transferred into their name for them to deal with. That is achieved by producing the Grant of Probate.

Banks and Share Registries also will often require Probate to be produced before releasing assets.

What are Letters of Administration?

Sadly, some people die without having Wills in place or, alternatively, the Will that they had prepared is ruled invalid for some reason. In that situation, somebody has to take on a similar role to that of executor and they do that by applying to the Court for “Letters of Administration”.

Is it always necessary to get Probate or Letters of Administration?

No. Whether it will or will not be necessary is something you need to get advice on.

However, by way of example, it is commonplace for a Grant of Probate to not be required when the first of a married couple dies. In many such situations, their assets are owned jointly and a Grant of Probate is not required to transfer the assets solely into the name of the other person.

However, it should be noted that in the case of jointly held land, an application will need to be made to the Lands Titles Office to formally transfer the title into one name. We can perform this service for you quickly and inexpensively.

Moreover, the person to whom a deceased person’s Superannuation entitlements go might not be determined by the Will but, instead, might be the subject of a Binding Nomination or a decision by the Trustee to pay the survivor.

Sometimes people need assistance in dealing with the Trustee and this is something we can help with also.

How much does it cost?

The legal costs vary from estate to estate. We are happy to speak to you by telephone to find out some more information about the matter and we should then be able to give you some general guide about the likely charges involved in us to acting.

Someone close to me has died and I don’t think I have been treated fairly in the Will. What can I do?

Sadly, this situation happens all too often. What you can do varies widely from case to case but there are often remedies available. We have wide experience in disputed Will cases and can put you on the right path quickly and cost effectively. For more information about this go to Claims against Estates and the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act

Call us to discuss it or make an appointment for a Free First Interview”. Yours might also be an appropriate case for a “No Win – No Fee” arrangement

Still need a bit more information before you decide to come in? Feel free to give us a call. It won’t cost you anything to have a chat to find out if we can help you.

Learn more about Wills estates powers of attorney and advance care directives

We’re here to help

Talk to us about your legal requirements today.

Contact us