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When a person dies, everything they own forms their estate. Common items forming part of the estate include bank accounts, investments, shares, real estate, house contents, motor vehicles, jewellery and other possessions.
An executor is the person named in the will who is responsible for managing and distributing the estate by following the instructions given.
If there is no executor or no will at all, anyone over 18 entitled to a share of the estate can apply to the Supreme Court of Western Australia for letters of administration.
The duties of an executor include but are not limited to:
- locating the original will and arranging the funeral
- applying for a grant of probate
- identifying and notifying anyone who will benefit from the will, including people interstate or overseas
- securing assets and valuing the estate
- paying outstanding bills
- defending the estate against legal action
- lodging tax returns if necessary
- establishing trusts and looking after them if requested in the will.
Dealing with an estate is a complex and time consuming task and can be a burden on family and friends at an already difficult time. Many people instead choose to appoint a professional executor such as the Public Trustee.