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What to do when someone passes away

Author: Robert Lamb
2 min read
18 December 2019

Key Takeaways

  • It is important to locate a Will after someone dies, to ensure their wishes are carried out
  • In some cases, Executors should seek legal advice to ensure they are carrying out their duties correctly
  • It is important to regularly review the provisions of a Will and who has been nominated as the Executor

When someone passes away there can be a lot of turbulent emotions for those left behind, but it is important to make sure the wishes of the deceased are carried out in relation to their estate.

The best way to ensure this is done is to quickly locate their Will.

If you are appointed an executor you may need to apply to the court to prove the Will of your loved one. As an executor, if you make a mistake you may be liable. As experts we can assist with you in all aspects of administering an estate.

Just as importantly, the Will also sets out what they want done with their Estate, including who should receive any property or assets and any worthwhile causes to receive money.

The law also dictates what occurs and imposes obligations on the person responsible for ensuring these things are done.  That person is called the Executor of the Will.  There can be more than one executor. 

The Executor has many obligations, so appointing the right person to this role is incredibly important. 

The Executor’s role includes:

  • Ensuring the Will is complied with.
  • Ensuring the law is complied with.
  • Complying with requirements of third parties (such as banks or the government).
  • Ensuring timeframes are complied with.
  • Keeping appropriate records.
  • Seeking help including legal advice when needed.
  • Ensuring all debts and taxes are paid.

It can be a hard job, especially when the Executor was close to the deceased person and they are trying to ensure their wishes are carried out while coping with their own grief.

In these instances – or where Estates are particularly complex or problematic – we strongly suggest seeking the advice of legal experts who are able to guide you through the process and carry some of the burden for you.

It is also advisable to seek legal advice where there are multiple claims on an Estate or where the wishes of the deceased cannot be carried out for whatever unforeseen reason.

Often a copy of a person’s Will has been entrusted to the lawyers who drafted it, for safekeeping. Contacting the legal team at this point is a positive step towards making the process as seamless and painless as possible.

It is vitally important that each person takes the time to carefully review the provisions of their Will and who they have appointed Executor, to ensure it reflects their current situation. 

If you would like more information on Wills, Estate planning or Executors, please get in touch with Hillhouse Legal Partners.

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.

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