10 things to consider when a loved one passes away

When a family member or friend passes away it can be a very overwhelming and confusing time.

Not only are you dealing with grief, but you are also trying to navigate your way through the various matters to be dealt with such as funeral arrangements, the estate and the Will.

Below are some key things to consider when a loved one passes away.

1. Look after yourself (the most important step of all)

You may have been preparing for your loved one to pass away, or it could have come as a complete shock. Either way it is never easy to say goodbye. This is the time to look after yourself, spend time with your family and reflect on those good times you had.

2. Death Certificate

Usually the funeral provider will assist you with applying for the official Certificate of Death issued by NSW Births, Deaths & Marriages. This is an important document as it will be requested by each provider when you start dealing with your loved one’s assets.

3. Is there a Will?

You will need to search to see if the person who passed away had a Will and locate the original if there is one. Some important places to look for the Will include:

  • Their home office and personal papers;
  • A law firm which your loved one used;
  • The NSW Trustee & Guardian;
  • Banks and financial institutions where accounts were held; and
  • The Supreme Court Will deposit registry.

For more information take a look at our blog: Where to begin searching for a Will

4. Who takes charge of the assets & debts?

If there is a Will it should name a person or persons to be the “Executor(s)”. The Executor is the person who the willmaker has nominated to look after their affairs upon their death.

5. What is Probate? Is it needed?

A Grant of Probate is an order made by the Supreme Court confirming the Will is valid.

The application should be made within six months from when the person has passed away.

Whether or not a Grant of Probate is needed depends on the type of assets held. Enquiries should be made with the asset holders (bank, nursing home, share registry etc) as to their requirements and whether Probate is needed to release those assets.

6. What if there is no Will?

If no Will can be found, an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration is to be made to the Supreme Court to appoint a person as the Administrator of the estate. This person has a similar role to the Executor.

There are specific rules on who can apply to be an Administrator of the estate.  We recommended speaking with a Lawyer when no Will can be found.

7. Estate Bank Account

The Executor or Administrator of the estate will need to keep money received from the bank accounts of the person who passed away separate to their own.

8. Beneficiaries & Distribution

A Beneficiary is a person who receives a gift under the Will. Once the Executor has called in the assets and paid out all debts they may consider paying out (distributing) the gifts to the Beneficiaries.

9. Estate Tax Return

The Executor or Administrator may be required to lodge a tax return on behalf of the estate after the person passes away. This will depend on the assets of the estate and the tax position of the person prior to their death.

10. Challenging a Will

If a person has been left out of a Will, or is not happy with what they have been gifted, we recommend that legal advice should be sought in relation to their options.

If you have any questions or should you need any assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at Southern Waters Legal.

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