So you’ve been appointed as executor of a will – What next? The death of a loved family member or friend is invariably a difficult time, and without a properly implemented estate plan, it can become an unfortunate burden on the executor of the deceased person’s estate – once again reaffirming the importance of fulsome estate planning that can minimise distress at that unfortunate time.
As much as we estate solicitors ‘harp on’ about the importance of having a will, or having an up-to-date will, it’s actually not because we’re bored and seeking work – it’s because of the all too real situations we come across when we see things go wrong.
Without stoking the embers or fearmongering, the reality of COVID-19 and its disruption on our livelihoods is now an undisputable reality.
One question we are frequently asked is does a child or grandchild of a deceased have the right to contest a will?
Generally speaking, an attorney owed a duty of absolute loyalty to the principal – meaning that the attorney must place the principal’s interests above their own, and always act in the principal’s best interests.
Where there’s no will, it means that there cannot be an executor – because an executor is the person appointed by the will to carry out the instructions contains in the will. Where there’s no will, the scenario is called an “intestacy”, and the deceased person is said to have died “intestate” – that is, died without a will.
So you know what probate is (and if you don’t, see our article “What is Probate” here). The next question usually is, "Do I need a grant of probate?"
At its most basic level, a grant of probate is simply a Supreme Court order, given to an executor, that identifies the executor as the person to deal with the deceased person’s estate.