I filled you in with my last post that Dad passed away in September.
I shared my hiccups that occurred when organising his funeral. I think Dad would be pleased at how it all came together and humbled that over 200 people attended.
So what happens now? I haven’t done this before so I am learning as I go.
The Funeral Director will order the Death Certificate. This takes about 3 weeks to arrive and it comes by registered mail so you have to sign for receiving it. It’s not something they want to go astray. It is a legal document.
Get the mail redirected. Once you have a death certificate you can have the mail redirected for a year for free. You need to do this in person at the post office, it can’t be done online like a regular redirection. In the meantime I have paid for a month to allow time for the certificate to arrive, which was made simple for me as I had Power of Attorney over Dad’s affairs. They asked if he had a concession card but I didn’t have it with me at the time so when I go back this week I will ask if he is entitled to a refund or discount for the month that’s been paid for.
Cancel things. Health fund, telephone, electricity, newspaper delivery, etc. These can be done over the phone (no death certificate needed) and any refunds will be sent by cheque to “the estate of………” so the right person gets the money. More on this further on. As mail arrives, ring and get your loved one removed from mailing lists. If there are bills due, you can pay them and then claim it back from the estate, otherwise get extensions on the due dates and get them paid from the estate. Dad had already passed his car on, so the registration and insurance were already in the process of issuing refund cheques. I do need to return the disabled parking space permit to the RMS.
Unsubscribe from email lists. I have Dad’s computer passwords so am able to get into his computer and emails. Marketing emails have an unsubscribe link which makes it easy. Go back through emails in case there is something you haven’t thought of. A lot of bills arrive electronically these days, so you won’t always find a paper trail.
Find out how long you have to vacate the premises. It took a few intense phone calls to management and a plea for them to see reason and have compassion but I was able to negotiate a little bit of extra time to clear out the villa. As we all live away, we couldn’t go back and forth, it had to be a one trip job for each of us. And as a team we did it.
Make sure the funeral bill gets paid. Dad’s was prepaid, so I only needed to pay the organist. Banks will release funds from the bank account in the form of a cheque to the funeral home when the executor takes the bill to them. The bank will then freeze the account so no other funds can be drawn unless they authorise it. This now becomes a legal / estate issue so the bank is restricted on who any funds can be released to.
Get in touch with your loved one’s legal people – solicitor, accountant/tax agent. Give them a certified copy of the will if they don’t already have one. And give them a certified copy of the death certificate. The word certified is very important. It means the photocopy you are waving under their nose is a true and correct copy of the original and has been stamped and signed by someone who is legally allowed to say so. Those people would be a Solicitor or a Justice of the Peace and there will be others but off the top of my head I can’t tell you who. You can google that one if you like.
Decide if you want to handle the estate or if you want the legal people to do it. I have chosen (with Dad’s okay) to have his solicitor do it because know the process and the laws. I know it will be done right if they do it. Now that the death certificate has arrived, I can get some copies certified and send one each to the solicitor and the accountant and they can do their thing. When someone asks if the will is going to Probate and you replay that you don’t even know what Probate is, you know you are doing the right thing by handing it over to the professionals! It’s a term I heard when I was in banking but I never had to deal with it so I never bothered to learn what it was about. That was handled by a whole other department interstate. If you are going to DIY, you will need to set up a bank account in the “estate of the late……..” and that is where refunds and other monies will go. If there are shares or investments to cash in, the proceeds will go into this account. Superannuation needs to be released into this account. If a solicitor is handling it, they will have a trust account set up for receiving funds. Once everything has been gathered and any legal matters been dealt with and debts paid and anything else (tax return to date of death for example), then the estate can be dispersed as per the will. Using a solicitor means they do all of this.
Write everything down as you do it. I probably should have put this one first. You make so many phone calls and will have trouble remembering who told you what. And you forget if you rang the electricity company or the phone company and who was sending a refund cheque and who was sending a bill to be paid.
Notify Centrelink, the tax office, electoral office, Medicare, etc. I think they are all linked up these days and when you notify one government department, it will carry through to the others. That’s what happened when we moved and I changed my address. I updated it with one and I got confirmation letters from others. I imagin I will need to take the death certificate with me. I will start at Centrelink as Medicare is in the same place these days.
There will be things that I have missed in this post. Like I said, I haven’t done this before and I am learning as I go.
I know that I do need to organise a “Return Thanks” notice in the newspaper. I also need to email the Parish Secretary to ask the size of the memorial plaque that goes on the wall with Dad’s ashes so we can choose the wording. We tried to have a look at some prior to Dad’s funeral but the gate was locked. So google it is. I will put a suggestion forward to the family and see if they would make any changes. It’s not something that is mine, it is for all the family so they need the opportunity for input.
So that’s a bit of a run down of what you do as an executor. It’s not hard, it’s just unknown territory. Hopefully it will be a long time before you need to step into that role.