Q. If I'm the personal representative of the Estate (Executor or Administrator) what do I need to do?
Your responsibilities may include:
- Arranging the funeral (if this has not already been done).
- Checking the Will for specific instructions on how the body should be disposed (i.e. funeral, internment or cremation).
- Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (learn more about them here).
- Obtaining details of all assets and liabilities of the Estate, taking reasonable steps to protect and preserve the assets and, as appropriate, selling and disposing of property.
- Paying debts, expenses and taxes of the Estate.
- Keeping accounts and records of all dealings involving the assets of the Estate.
- Distributing the assets of the estate according to the terms of the Will or the rules for “intestate Estates” if applicable as provided in the Administration Act.
Q. What Identification (ID) do I need to bring into a branch?
You'll need to bring two pieces of personal identification, including a photographic ID such as your driving license.
Q. Who registers the death?
The funeral director or person responsible for the burial or cremation of the body, or their authorised agent, must notify Births, Deaths and Marriages of the death within three working days of the burial or cremation. The funeral director or other person in charge of the body must obtain a Medical Certificate or Coroner's Authorisation before burying, cremating or otherwise disposing of the body.
Q. How long will it take to register a death?
The registration process takes up to four working days. You are not notified once the death has been registered. If you have requested a death certificate it will be sent to you after the death is registered.
Q. What happens if the customer didn't leave a Will?
We recommend you seek independent legal advice.
Q. What if someone is contesting the Will?
If someone is contesting the Will, the process is more complicated and will involve a trial in the High Court. You will need to take legal advice.
Q. Is it always necessary to apply for Probate/Letters of Administration before an Estate can be administered?
No, it may not be necessary to apply for Probate or Letters of Administration if the total value of the deceased’s Estate is less than $15,000 (and doesn’t include ownership of land or an interest in land ).
Q. What are the requirements if Probate or Letters of Administration are not required ?
If the total value of the deceased's Estate with Westpac is less than $15,000 at the date of death then a Deceased Estate Declaration and Claim/Indemnity Form can be completed by an eligible claimant. You'll find this form here.
Q. When does the $15,000 value of Estate get calculated?
The need for Probate or Letters of Administration will be calculated based on the value of the Estate at the date of death.
Q. How do I apply for Probate or Letters of Administration?
In order to obtain Probate or Letters of Administration the Executors must apply in writing to the High Court for it to be granted in their favour.
Although you’re not required to do so, a Probate application is usually completed through a lawyer, the Public Trust or a statutory Trustee Company because all the documents must be filed and completed according to Probate law and practice
Q. How can I pay the funeral bills?
If the credit balance in the deceased’s account is under $15,000 at the date of death once you, or the funeral director have provided an original funeral tax invoice or tax receipt, Westpac is able to release funds from the deceased customer’s accounts to assist with paying the funeral invoice. If there are not sufficient funds available in the account(s) of the deceased to pay the funeral bill, we will make a partial payment with what money is available.
Please note: You will generally be unable to access managed funds for this purpose.
Q. Will Westpac release funds from the account to pay for additional expenses associated with the funeral (e.g. the wake, flights for relatives to attend the funeral, stonemasons etc)?
Westpac will generally not release funds from the customer’s account(s) to pay for these additional expenses unless Probate or Letters of Administration have been granted, and Westpac is directed to do so by the executor or Administrator of the Estate.
Q. What if the person who has died had debt owing?
If the person who passed away had monies owing to Westpac, the Estate must allow for these to be repaid before releasing credit funds.
Q. Why could I access the customer’s accounts before but not anymore?
When someone dies all their private accounts are frozen, and all direct debits and credit cards are also frozen. If you were a signatory on an account you will no longer have access. Only joint account owners will have continued access as the accounts pass to the surviving party, and do not form part of the deceased estate.
Q. What happens to Joint accounts?
Joint accounts do not form part of the Estate and the surviving party has access to the funds which become the survivor’s ownership. The survivor can instruct the funds can be transferred to a new private account and the joint account can be closed.
Q. What about businesses customers?
If the Westpac customer was a sole trader with a business, we can take instruction from the solicitor for the continuation of the payment of business expenses, subject to any directions in the Will.
Q. What can I do with inheritance?
When the residuary Estate is finalised you may be a beneficiary of a sum of money from the Estate. Westpac can put you in touch with a team of accredited advisors who can help you to understand what your options are in terms of investing.
Q. Where can I find more information?
For information specific to your Estate, please contact your case manager. We've also provided a list of other organisations you may want to contact for other information here.