Good records make executors' job easy

Farmer Freddy learns about the executors' role in a will.

Farmer Freddy and Pebbles have been to Freddy's Great-aunt Cybil's funeral.

"I'm sorry to see poor old Aunty Cybil pass on," Freddy says. "But, I suppose she lived a good long life - 99 is certainly a ripe old age."

"Did she ever marry, Dad?" asks Pebbles.

"No," replies Freddy. "She never married and she never had any children - she was far too sensible for that."

"I wonder what will happen to her estate. I know she was very frugal and she was always pretty shrewd, so I imagine she invested her money well over the years."

"Well," replies Pebbles, "presumably she had a will that, among other things, appointed executors to administer her estate as she set out in her will."

"I was talking to Uncle Barney at the funeral," says Freddy, "and he said that he is one of the executors of her estate, along with an old friend of hers. How does the process work?"

"The first thing that will happen," says Pebbles, "is that the lawyer holding the original copy of her will will contact the executors. It's their job to realise the assets. If she had good records ..."

"Great-aunt Cybil would have had good records," Freddy interjects.

"Well, that will make the executors' job much easier then," continues Pebbles. "Since, by the sounds of it, she had a sizeable estate, one of the first things the executors will need to do is to apply for probate from the High Court.

"Probate is the court's confirmation that her will has been proved and registered in the court, and that the executors proving the will have been granted the right to administer it.

"Once probate is received, the executors can set about collecting in, and realising, the assets. To do this, they contact her bank, any insurance company holding a life policy, her financial adviser, and any entities in which she has investments, to discuss collecting in those assets. It is important to note that bank accounts are frozen on death unless the account is in joint names."

"Once this has been done," Pebbles continues," the funds are held for six months to allow for claims to be made by creditors against the estate, or other possible claimants, such as anyone whom she might have made a promise to look after in her will, in return for some service or support provided.

"Then, if no claims are made, the proceeds of the estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries under the will."

"That's interesting," says Freddy. "No doubt there'll be some happy members of the family over the coming months. I also wouldn't be surprised if she's left a fair amount to some of her favourite charities. I know she was a big supporter of the arts, and she was a big fan of Len Lye."

"On the subject of wills, Dad, is your will up to date?" asks Pebbles. "And how are you financial records? I know your study at home is not a model of order and cleanliness."

"Thank you for the reminder, Pebbles. But I'm not planning on going anywhere just yet. But you're right - I should make sure a few of those things are in order," replies Freddy.


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