Choosing an Executor for your estate is an important decision, but selecting the right person for the job isn’t enough if you want your estate to be administered in a timely, and the least painful manner.
Once you have chosen an Executor it’s important to consider how you can make their job easier for them.
Unfortunately being an Executor can be a time-consuming task. They are responsible for the deceased’s property and for payment of all outstanding debts and taxes from the Estate funds, as well as distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.
This involves sourcing all of the relevant documents needed to carry out the task.
If however, the documents are not easily located or the Executor doesn’t have knowledge of their existence, the estate administration process can be drawn out unnecessarily, often resulting in additional costs, heartache, and potentially conflict.
Helping out your Executor isn’t just a nice thing to do for them, it’s the right thing to do for your loved ones and beneficiaries.
Here is a list of the key documents you may need to organise for your Executor. Depending on your individual situation, not all of the documents will apply to you.
- A copy of your up-to-date and valid Will
- Powers of Attorney
- Advance Health Directive
- Binding death benefit nomination form
- Testamentary Trust documents
- Guardianship information
- Funeral or burial arrangements
- Other documents referred to in your Will.
- Birth certificates (you, your spouse, and any dependent children)
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce and marriage settlement documents
- Details of any Family Law orders in place
- Discharge papers for veterans benefits
- Citizenship papers if a naturalised citizen
- Details of any subscriptions or memberships you have
- List of key personal contacts and family members, and their contact details.
Health and Medical
- Health insurance
- Medicare information
- Healthcare cards
- Details of your GP and other medical professionals.
Proof of Ownership
- Deeds to any properties and other significant assets you own
- Business documentation or partnership agreements, and details of any succession plans
- Inventory of key personal property
- Stock certificates and brokerage statements
- Details of any patents, copyrights, trademarks or royalties you’re entitled to
- Vehicle/boat registrations and insurances.
- Bank account details and statements
- Cryptocurrency information and instructions
- Previous tax returns
- Centerlink records
- Safety deposit information
- Statements and details of any utilities or services you have
- Details of any debts or mortgages you owe money on and the repayment schedules
Instructions and assistance
- Guidance on how you want any pets to be cared for and details of their health needs and their vet.
- Specific instructions for how to care for specific dependents, and/or loved ones including those with a disability
- Login details to access key digital assets, such as social media and online accounts
- List of trusted professionals and advisers, such as lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, bankers.
The above list may not be exhaustive, so it’s important you speak to a qualified legal professional to ensure you organise the appropriate documentation for your individual circumstances.
Once you have organised all of your documentation you should identify a secure location it can be stored. Your lawyer may also give you the option to store it with your Will at their offices.
Then you should advise a trusted person, such as your Executor, or Estate Lawyer, where and how to access the documents.
It’s also a good idea to let your spouse or a child know this location.
You should consider reviewing your documentation around once a year to ensure it is up-to-date and still relevant.