What to know about executing a will

Date: Oct 29, 2014

When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important aspects to consider is who will act as the executor of your will. This is an incredibly important position, with the executor responsible for fulfilling your wishes once you have passed away.

At the same time, your executor will be placed in a position of significant responsibility. Incorrect behaviour on their part can lead to an estate dispute, making it important for those drafting a will to choose the right person.

If you have been chosen to execute a will, here are some of the key steps that need to be taken: 

Detail the contents of the deceased's estate

The first step for any executor is going to be building a detailed list of the possessions of the deceased - an inventory of property. This process will include any real estate that the deceased held, along with financial assets and personal belongings.

It is important to note that any debts the deceased has incurred will also need to be paid out during this process, before the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Applying for probate

One of the most important steps in administering a will is applying for probate from the Supreme Court of New South Wales. This involves the courts determining that the document presented is the final will and testament of the deceased.

In some situations, it will not be necessary to apply for probate. If for example, all of the deceased's property was held jointly with another person, or if the value of the estate is very small, it may not be necessary to take this step.

Distributing the estate

If six months have passed since the deceased passed away, and any requirements like probate have been met, it is possible for the executor to begin distributing the will, the Law Society of NSW explains. At this stage, you will also need to advertise the distribution of the will so that any individual with a claim against the estate can contact you.

If you would like to name an executor as part of drafting your will, make sure you investigate your options with a wills and estates lawyer. They can advise on the best way to proceed with this process along with the other requirements that come with drafting a will.