If you have chosen to take on the role of an Executor for the Estate of your loved one, it’s normal to wonder about what this role actually involves. Having supported many clients in this process, one of the most common questions we hear is “What documents and information do I need?”. To help answer this question, our Wills and Estates lawyer, Bridgette Dempsey, is unpacking 5 key documents and sources of information that you need to have when working through a loved one’s Estate. Find out what they are below. 


  1. A death certificate

Without a death certificate, you will find that there is very little you can do to manage a deceased Estate, beyond arranging the funeral of your loved one. This is because most organisations will need to see the death certificate as proof that your loved one is deceased before they can communicate with you about your loved one’s Estate.


Obtaining a death certificate will help you with communicating with asset holders – such as banks – and will allow them to provide further information about your loved one’s Estate.


Thanks to law changes in Victoria in 2022, any death certificate can usually be used for notifying asset holders. When it comes to applying for Probate however, the death certificate required by the Court is the death certificate containing the cause of death. 


  1. The original Will

If your loved one created a Will, you will need to find the original copy of it to apply for Probate. If you cannot find the original Will, but you believe there was one, you will need to look for records showing who last had possession of it. This can be done by searching the residence and papers of the deceased, and contacting their bank to see if there is a safe custody packet.


If the original Will is held by a law firm, you would need the death certificate in order to access the Will. Law firms are not able to give or show the Will to anyone other than the testator – or the person who created the Will – until they have passed away, due to confidentiality. 


If the last person who had the Will was the testator, but the Will has been lost and you cannot find it, then the Court will presume that the testator destroyed their Will to revoke it. In this case, you would not be able to obtain Probate of that Will, nor a copy of it.


If there is no Will, you will need details of all the deceased’s next of kin. This will assist with determining who the beneficiaries of the Estate are in intestacy, and who would be most appropriate to apply for Letters of Administration.


  1. Information regarding assets and liabilities

You will need to have information regarding your loved one’s assets and debts in order to complete the Inventory of Assets and Liabilities when applying for Probate, or Letters of Administration.


The Inventory should contain the value of all your loved one’s assets and debts – as at the date of their death. 


If the Estate contains real property, you will need the Certificate of Title in order to transfer or sell that property. If a Certificate of Title has been lost, we as your lawyers can assist in applying for a replacement.


  1. Contact details of beneficiaries

It is helpful to have the basic contact details of the beneficiaries of an Estate. You do not necessarily need to have this information initially, but you would eventually need to contact the beneficiaries when it comes time to distribute the Estate.


If you need legal support and advice for working through a loved one’s Estate, our Wills & Estates team have extensive experience with both simple and complex matters. At South East Lawyers, you will be fully supported, informed and guided to effectively work through each matter towards a good outcome. To reach out to our team and receive the quality support you deserve, visit our website here.