How do we know if there is a Will?

It is a good idea to check the deceased's personal papers. Failing that you should check with the deceased's lawyer or trust company to confirm the existence of any Will or arrange to place an advertisement in the local Law Society publication asking if other lawyers hold a Will for the deceased.

What happens if there is no Will?

This is called dying intestate. If someone dies without a Will, their estate Will be distributed according to the Administration Act 1969.

Where there is no Will, or there is no executor named, one of the next of kin may undertake the task but it is usual to ask a trustee company such as Perpetual Guardian or a lawyer to act.

Is a Will a public document?

A Will is a public document only once probate has been granted. A copy of the Will is only released to the executor, residual beneficiaries or the guardian of any residual beneficiaries if they are under 20 years of age. A residual beneficiary is someone who is entitled to a share of the remainder of the estate. If you would like to obtain a copy of the probated Will you can get one from the High Court where the probate was granted.

What is an executor?

The executor is the person or organisation who is appointed under a Will to collect and distribute the deceased’s estate and deal with the expenses and debts. This may be an individual, a lawyer or a trustee company such as Perpetual Guardian.

What does the executor of a Will do?

An executor is the person or organisation responsible for ensuring the wishes specified in the Will are carried out as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Responsibilities of an executor include applying for a probate, contacting all beneficiaries, collecting and selling assets and paying estate expenses.

What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is anyone who is left assets under the Will.

What does codicil mean?

This is a document that amends a Will and is read together with the Will.

What does legatee mean?

A beneficiary of a fixed cash sum or personal property under a Will.

What does a legacy mean?

A gift of personal property, traditionally of money.

What is a bequest?

A specific gift of an item or property under a Will. 

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