The important role played by a valid will in assisting the distribution of an estate according to the wishes of its author cannot be overstated - as the document serves as the last form of instruction available to the deceased.
One of the important elements that needs to be included in the estate planning process is the appointment of an executor.
This individual will be responsible for what is known as the administration of the deceased's assets - which can include a range of different items.
It is this wide spread definition of an estate that makes the appointment of an executor so important - they are required to understand what needs to be done with each element and the manner in which the will's author wishes it to be dealt with.
Administering a will could involve onerous tasks such as maintaining a residential property.
Considering the varied duties that may be required of an executor, the will's author needs to be sure that the individual chosen for the role is capable of ensuring that these tasks are carried out - either by themselves or with additional assistance as required.
On the other hand, more complex or technical responsibilities may involve the assistance of qualified professionals before the assets can be realised - turned into cash - or have their ownership transferred.
Ascertaining the financial position of the deceased, paying funeral expenses, bills or mortgage payments can sometimes need additional help from external sources.
When it comes to the distribution of the assets themselves, the executor may need to consult with an estates lawyer to determine the best legal means to achieve the deceased's wishes.
It is important to gain quality advice right from the start, as the details of estate administration can be quite time consuming.
According to the office of the NSW Legal Services Commissioner, it is common for the executor to spend at least a year in processing the contents of a will.
In cases where funds are allocated to be delivered to an individual or organisation on a regular basis, a trust may need to be set up.
Comprehensive instructions need to be provided on this matter, as an executor who is also appointed as a trustee does not usually begin the duties of the latter until their former role is considered to be finished.