12 Executor Documents Needed After a Death

Depending on the circumstances, the estate administration process can be a complicated, time-consuming and stressful affair. In fact, for an Executor to be able to manage a deceased estate efficiently, they need to take into account a number of Executor documents and fill out certain forms on behalf of the estate. They also have to stay on top of certain processes or tasks necessary for proper estate administration.

If you’ve been asked to take on the role of Executor, it would help to know exactly the kind of paperwork required to do your job well. In general, you may need to include the following in your estate administration documents and forms checklist.

1. The Original Will

Aside from keeping the original Will safe, you may need to make certified copies of the Will for various purposes. This document is required for obtaining a Grant of Probate and determining all the beneficiaries of the deceased estate.

Any interested party, such as the spouse, parent, de facto partner or guardian of the deceased, who want a copy of the Will must provide a written request addressed to the Executor or solicitor holding the original Will.

2. Personal Insurance Details 

In order to make the required claims, you should also check for the following insurance documents or details: 

  • Funeral plan, funeral insurance or prepaid funeral details
  • Life insurance policies
  • Other types of insurance, including health, pet and personal accident

3. Grant of Probate Documents

When Probate is required to administer a deceased estate, you need to apply for a Grant of Probate. Depending on the state or territory, there may be variations in the forms required during application:

3.1 Probate Documents Western Australia (WA) – Perth

Besides the Will itself and any codicils, the Probate forms used in Western Australia include the Affidavit Template – Answering a Requisition, Consent Form, Notice Form, Request to Collect Grant, Search Enquiry Form, and Statement of Assets and Liabilities.

3.2 Probate Documents NSW (New South Wales) – Sydney

In New South Wales, the Probate forms include the ​Application for an Exemplification of a Grant (Copy or Certified/sealed copy of a Grant/Will)​​​​​​​​, Application to Publish – Notice of Intended Distribution of an Estate​​, ​Request to Publish a Notice of Intention to Apply for Probate/Administration/Reseal, and ​Application to Publish an Online Notice of Filing of Accounts​​​.

3.3 Probate Documents Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne

To file for Probate in Victoria, aside from filing certain documents such as the Originating Motion for a Grant of Probate, Affidavit of Executor and certified copy of Death Certificate, there are various types of Probate forms provided by the Supreme Court of Victoria depending on the need. Examples of these include the Exemplification Request, Supplementary Affidavit of Executor and Affidavit of Due Execution. 

3.4 Probate Documents Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane

When applying for Probate in Queensland, there are several forms you will have to file, such as Form 101 – Application for Probate (Will), an affidavit in support using Form 105 – Affidavit (Probate application), an affidavit of publication and service using Form 104 – Affidavit of publication, and so on.

4. Death Certificate

The original death certificate of the deceased is a required document for filing for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. Original certified copies of the same may also be required by banks, insurance companies and similar establishments once you start the estate administration process because the death certificate proves the death of their customer, even before the Grant of Probate is issued.

5. Grant of Probate

Once you receive the Grant of Probate, you’ll be using it as the official document proving your role as the Executor acting on behalf of the deceased estate. You will need this document for transferring assets to the estate and in performing all other estate administration tasks.

6. Financial Documents

As the authorised Executor, you need to get the full picture in terms of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. Banks, authorised superannuation funds and other financial institutions will provide you with an overview of the deceased’s accounts, superannuation, investments, etc.

These documents will include not only financial and business assets but also any loans or debts owed. There are several types of financial documents you need to obtain to get a better understanding of how much the deceased estate is worth.

  • Bank and loan statements
  • Term deposit receipts
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Superannuation fund details
  • Investment fund statements
  • Stock and share certificates, capital gains tax records, statements of holdings, etc.
  • Business details (if any)
  • Payslips or salary slips
  • Government payment slips

7. Real Estate Documents

If the deceased owned any real estate or was renting property, you will have to find the following documents:

  • Certificates of title (including vacant land)
  • Home and contents insurance policies
  • Any documents related to mortgages or real estate loans
  • Council tax invoices
  • Real estate agent tax invoices
  • Strata levy invoices

8. Vehicle Documents

Any documents relating to vehicles owned by the deceased should also be collected.

  • The deceased person’s driver’s licence
  • Vehicle registration papers for any vehicles owned, such as boats, motorcycles, cars, trailers and motorhomes
  • Vehicle insurance policies
  • Bills from the Transport Department

9. Various Memberships and Cards

The deceased may have held memberships in certain organisations or cards from establishments that need to be considered or cancelled, such as:

  • Senior citizen card
  • Pensioner Concession card, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card or other entitlement cards
  • Medicare card and other health fund membership data
  • Store account cards
  • Professional membership tax invoices, such as from institutions like Chartered Accountants, CPA, Engineers Australia and Law Society

10. Miscellaneous Accounts

Documents relating to accounts for utilities and certain services should also be gathered together to ensure there are no amounts owed or unpaid services.

  • Most current statements: telephone, electricity, gas, water, land tax, council rates, etc.
  • Service provider tax invoices for subscriptions: mobile phone, landline, internet, Foxtel, Netflix, Stan or other paid TV services, music streaming services (e.g., Spotify), wine clubs, gym or sport memberships, newspapers, magazines, health, nutrition and other subscriptions
  • Outstanding account statements or professional services tax invoices (if any): store accounts or services (e.g., plumbing, electrical, accountant or bookkeeper, lawyer, tax professional and financial planner)
  • Funeral account that should indicate whether it has been paid or there’s any amount outstanding

11. Information on Immediate Family Members

Keeping a record of the contact details of immediate family members is crucial for you to be able to communicate with or notify them anytime you need to, especially in relation to estate administration.

12. Contact Details of Named Beneficiaries

One of your tasks as Executor is to find and notify the beneficiaries named in the Will. So, keep a separate file for all their legal or full names, home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and other pertinent information.

By knowing what documents to look for and information to keep, you will have a deeper understanding and clearer view of the deceased person’s commitments, dealings and relationships. Therefore, it’s crucial for you in your role as Executor to collate all paperwork diligently and file away all the necessary details, as doing so will help you significantly in conducting estate administration.

Locating Documents

If you had been regularly in touch with the deceased person or supported them with admin tasks when they were alive, it would be easier for you to locate certain files or documents.

Whatever the situation, there are people you can coordinate with or places you can check as you try to collate all the documents you need as Executor.

  • Immediate family members: Get in touch with the deceased person’s family and check if they know of or have access to certain records or documents of the deceased.
  • Power of attorney: If the deceased person arranged for a Power of Attorney (POA), you may coordinate with that person and ask for access to whatever documents, files or records they may have in their possession.
  • Wallet or attaché case: You may find different types of cards such as IDs, driver’s licence, insurance, health and bank cards in the deceased person’s wallet. If they have an attaché case they used to always carry around, you may want to check it for any real estate, business or financial documents.
  • Filing cabinet, cupboard, safe, etc.: These are all conventional locations for storing important files, documents and various types of paperwork. Make sure you check these out during your search.
  • Post or mail: You may need to monitor the deceased person’s post for a couple of weeks or months to get a fair idea of their affairs or dealings.
  • Mobile phone: These days, people use their mobile phones for not only communication (via SMS, social media, email, etc.) but also for storing valuable data involving their finances, contacts and appointments. If you have no access to the deceased person’s mobile phone and you think it is crucial to managing the estate, seek legal advice to obtain permission to access it.
  • Computer: A computer is a great place for storing key information, correspondence and any type of document. If the deceased owner provided you with access to their computer, then be on the lookout for files on the important documents listed here that can help you as an Executor.
  • Bank deposit box: Bank deposit boxes are facilities provided by banking institutions to their clients for safely storing valuables, such as important documents. Check with the deceased person’s bank on how you may be granted access to any deposit box held in their name.
  • Accountant and lawyer: If the deceased person worked with an accountant for arranging their financial affairs or a lawyer, check if they are holding any important documents or files. If they are, you’ll need to ask for formal access to those items.

Other possible repositories of information include the deceased person’s email and other digital or online accounts. Again, if you need access to these, seek legal advice before attempting to extract anything from these sources.

To keep track of all Executor documents required and all the paperwork you have to take care of, you can download the simplyEstate Important Documents Checklist.