Instant online quotes for administering deceased estates
6 April 2021
Queenslanders can now get an instant estimate on the cost of the Public Trustee administering a deceased estate using the Public Trustee’s pilot online fee estimator – the first Public Trustee fee estimator in Australia.
Last year the Public Trustee commenced administration of more than 2,100 estates where the Public Trustee was named as the executor under a Will; or a person died without a Will.
Acting Public Trustee of Queensland and CEO Samay Zhouand said when someone dies, their assets are called the ‘estate’ and may include a person’s property and belongings such as a car, jewellery, shares or investments. It can be a difficult and complex process with the added stress of not knowing how much it might actually cost.
He said people should carefully consider who they nominate as the executor of a Will. “Being an executor can be a substantial commitment and comes with a number of strict legal obligations,” Mr Zhouand said.
Depending on the size and complexity of an estate it can take more than a year of effort for an executor to finalise and distribute the estate.
Mr Zhouand said “When appointing an executor, it’s a good idea to consider if the person has business, legal, financial and tax experience, as well as the time to manage the paperwork and the ability to make timely decisions.
Anyone aged 18 or above can be an executor of a Will. The executor is responsible for managing and protecting the assets of the estate until they are distributed to the beneficiaries. The executor must act to uphold the terms of the Will, but at the same time understand Queensland laws that might impact the ultimate distribution of the estate.
“It is common for most people to name one of the beneficiaries as an executor of their Will, such as a spouse/civil partner, child or close relative or friend,” Mr Zhouand said.
“However, if family conflicts are of concern or there is no one either within or external to the family that have the time and skills to undertake the role of executor, then a solicitor, trustee company or the Public Trustee can be nominated as the executor to administer the estate.”
Mr Zhouand said in some instances the nominated person may not wish to accept the role of executor.
“This may be due to living overseas, not having the time to manage the estate, having concerns about managing beneficiary and family issues, or concerns about taking on the legal risks of being the executor.”
“Many people are unsure of the tasks and responsibilities involved when they are nominated as the executor of a Will. If they choose to do so, an executor may renounce their position,” he said.
“If people who are named as executor are considering whether they would prefer to ask the Public Trustee to take on the role of administering the estate, the new online fee estimator enables them to get an instant online quote for what it might cost to administer the estate.
It is important for people to make an informed choice, so they should first look around to ensure they understand the options available”.
When appointed as executor, the main steps of administering an estate include:
- locating and interpreting the last valid Will
- obtaining probate (the legal authority to handle the estate) from the Supreme Court of Queensland. This involves advertising, and preparing and lodging court documents with the Supreme Court.
- locating and notifying beneficiaries
- verifying and protecting assets
- confirming or arranging insurance of assets
- collecting valuables and income
- determining and paying debts
- preparing tax returns
- obtaining tax clearances
- preparing final statements and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries
“It’s a sad period for many families and it can be hard grieving while trying to be across all the paperwork,” he said.
The Public Trustee of Queensland is the first Public Trustee in Australia to publish a fee estimator on its website.
If you are thinking of appointing the Public Trustee as your executor, or you are an executor and are considering renouncing your role and asking the Public Trustee to take on the role of administering the estate, please visit www.pt.qld.gov.au or call the Public Trustee on 1300 360 044.
Alternatively, you can contact the Queensland Law Society website which will have the names of local solicitors and the Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialists in Succession Law.
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