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Step 6: The Estate and important considerations

Administration of the estate can be complex, depending on each case. This involves potentially a number of accounts that we will locate and notify you of

Each Estate is unique, and the time it takes to finalise accounts can vary considerably. Considerations include the number and type of banking products held, whether a Grant of Probate is required and the ability for Westpac to obtain all the necessary information.

 

There are three types of people authorised to represent the Estate of the deceased with Westpac:

 

  • An Executor of the Estate, who is named as executor in the Will, and we have a certified copy of the valid Will
  • Those appointed by Letters of Administration or a Probate Bond - if an Executor has not been appointed, or there is no Will (Our Estates Management Team will tell you how to go about it)
  • A Solicitor where you’ve instructed them to write to Westpac confirming their authorisation

The Executor administers the Will.

They are responsible for locating the Will and following the Will’s instructions for funeral requirements, collecting all assets, finalising outstanding liabilities and distributing the assets in accordance with the Deceased person’s instructions

A solicitor will help with complex issues in estates such as trusts, bankruptcies and foreign assets.

Things that you should take into consideration are the size of the Estate, as well as the variety of assets including real estate and investments, the number of beneficiaries, their location and whether you anticipate any disputes

An Executor, Trustee, Administrator, Legal Representative or next of kin can apply for Probate.

The requirement for probate or administration will be waived by Westpac if the deceased held less than $100,000 in total with Westpac. In this case, all next-of-kin are required to sign the Westpac Notification/Indemnity Form.

Westpac follows the instructions of the Executor, not the Will. Westpac may not always hold the entire estate of our customer and as such we have no clear way to understand, nor fulfil the instructions in the Will. If you need more advice about the broader responsibilities of an Executor or Administrator, including applying for Probate, what to do with car registration or dealing with other financial institutions you should seek the guidance of Centrelink, the Public Trustee’s Office as well as your own solicitor or financial advisor.

Tax and deceased estates

There is no inheritance or estate tax in Australia. When a loved one dies, there are some important tax and superannuation issues for the executor and the beneficiaries, including:

 

  • Notifying the ATO
  • Tax returns for a loved one
  • Trust tax returns for a deceased estate
  • If you are a beneficiary of a deceased estate

 

The ATO has deceased estates information as well as a useful checklist on their website. If there are complex tax implications in the estate, expert advice on tax may be necessary

What happens with business accounts?

Business accounts can be quite complex and are dependent on how they were established. Please speak with the deceased’s Business banking Relationship Manager or seek independent advice

 

Things to consider:

  • Only Executors, Representatives or Solicitors are authorised to represent the estate with Westpac
  • If the deceased only held accounts in joint names with someone else and Probate isn’t needed, the personal representative may be able to deal with everything in a few weeks