Arranging the deceased’s affairs


When somebody dies, there are many things that need to be done. On the personal side there are things such as making the funeral arrangements, dealing with the deceased’s personal effects, and contacting relatives and friends. Whilst the Executor in the Will is the person that is responsible for all arrangements, normally a number of family members help in this regard. For the financial matters, the executor will be expected to make the decisions and sign relevant documents, and normally with the help of a Solicitor.

This is such a sad and stressful time, that it is difficult to think straight, or to think of the more mercenary things, such as financial arrangements. What I say is ‘first things first’. The following is a rough order of the things that you need to do:

  • Contact family and friends
  • Locate the Will
  • Arrange the funeral
  • Sort through the deceased personal effects
  • Compile a Willmaker’s register of the deceased’s assets
  • Get a copy of the death certificate (the funeral home will usually arrange this for you)
  • Read the Will to the beneficiaries (this is optional)
  • Consider seeing a Solicitor to assist you in dealing with all of the affairs

The main thing that you will need to do as Executor is to call in all the assets, and then distribute them to the beneficiaries. Calling in the assets includes:

  • Selling any properties owned by the deceased – you may like to check with the beneficiaries first to see if they want that to be done. Before you can sell the property, you will need to change the registration of the property from the deceased to either yourself as Executor or register it directly into the beneficiaries names (check your State’s Titles Office for their specific rules in this regard)
  • Selling/transferring shares – again you need to register the fact that the owner has now passed away, and that the shares are to be sold, or transferred to an entitled beneficiary. Most share registries require Probate to be obtained (that is the Court sanction that the deceased’s Will is the last valid Will) before they will do this.
  • Bank accounts need to be closed. Many banks will act on a certified copy of the Will and the death certificate, as well as require you to fill in a number of forms.
  • You need to locate all super funds that the deceased had. If you are unsure, look at the employers that they worked for. How the super is to be distributed will depend on the particular circumstances, such as who the deceased nominated in their super fund documentation (if any), or any nomination in the Will, and who the dependants are. Whilst there are new rules that say that you can make a binding nomination in specific ways, in the absence of doing this, the super fund trustee will decide how the moneys are to go (normally in accordance with the Will, or to dependants).