Step 4 – Deceased Estate Administration Guide
Locate the Will & Insurance Information
- Last Updated: May 2022
This step explains everything you need to know about locating the valid Will (if one is in place) and finding out about any pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurances the deceased person may have arranged to help the family and save you money and time. You should check this before you engage a Funeral Director in case there are restrictions.
OverviewThe Will is an important document as it outlines the deceased person’s final wishes. You should ascertain if:
- a Will is in place and you can locate it;
- a pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance is in place;
- you can make an informed decision on how to progress with the body transport from the home, hospital or nursing home without incurring unnecessary costs; and
- you can secure other important documents whilst looking for the Will.
4.1 Check if a Will is in Place & Locate It
First of all, you will need to find out if the deceased person put a Will in place and where this may be located. The spouse, de facto partner, children aged 18 and over, parents, siblings or the Executor (person nominated in the Will to administer the deceased estate) may be able to help with this.If you are unsure where the Will may be located, you should check:
- filing cabinets at the deceased person’s home
- filing cabinets at the deceased person’s office
- a Next of Kin’s home
- a safe in the home
- a bank deposit box
- the State/Territory’s Public Trustee (WA – Will Bank , NSW – Will Safe, VIC – Will Bank)
- files with an accountant
- files with a lawyer
If the Will is stored by someone else, you may need to use the copy of the Will to prove the death until you receive the Death Certificate (see Step 8 – Apply for the Death Certificate) allowing you to obtain the original Will.
4.2 What if There are Multiple Wills
There may be instances where multiple Wills or multiple versions of Wills are found. It will be crucial to determine which of the Wills is valid and to be used for the estate administration process.
If you are unsure which Will is valid, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from one of our carefully selected Trusted Partners near you. Their contact details are listed below.
4.3 What if There is no Will
If you have determined that no Will is in place and this is confirmed by family members, then you should still check if any pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral or funeral insurance plans are in place as outlined below.
Note: Where no Will is in place, it is said to be an Intestate estate and will be administered according to the legislation and rules in the relevant State/Territory.
4.4 Check for Pre-Arranged Funeral Provisions
- AIA Funeral Insurance
- American Express
- Real Insurance
- Australian Seniors
- Many Funeral Directors also offer such arrangements
4.4.1 If a Will is in Place
After locating the Will, you will be able to search for references to any pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance and with which provider.
It will be worthwhile also checking who the Executor nominated in the Will is for the next Step 5 – Duties of an Executor & How to Determine the Executor or Administrator and for the Executor to hold on to the Will.
The deceased person may have drafted a Will a while ago and as time went on changes were required to amend certain clauses or entire sections of a Will. This can either be achieved by drafting a new Will completely or draft a Codicil, which is a supplementary document to the Will. If a Codicil is in place, the Will and the Codicil(s) will need to be provided.
4.4.2 If no Will is in Place
If no Will was found and the Next of Kin or family confirms that no Will is in place, look for documents of pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance providers such as policy documents, letters, invoices or business cards.
4.5 Contact the Funeral Insurance or Funeral Provider
If you have successfully located the provider, you should contact them to inform them of the death and check what services are covered, especially the transportation of the body at this point in time. Also check which provider you can choose from if specified or what restrictions and limits you need to be aware of when you work through Step 6 – Organise Transportation of the Body.
4.6 Secure Other Documents
As you are looking for the Will and pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance documents, we recommend that you take all other relevant documents that may be important for the deceased estate administration into your custody if you will be the likely Executor or Administrator. Download our Important Documents Checklist to find out about the most commonly used documents you will need.
Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself
If you have decided to tackle this Step yourself after reading and understanding the above, you may want to:
- Find out if a Will is in place and locate it
(see Step 4.1 above);
- Where multiple Wills can be found, determine which Will is the valid Will
(see Step 4.2 above);
- Check the Will or other documents where you could not find a Will about any pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurances
(see Step 4.4 above);
- Contact the insurance or funeral provider about the arrangement and request if the body transport is included based on your situation
(see Step 4.5 above);
- Prepare the transportation of the deceased person’s body as outlined in Step 6 – Organise Transportation of the Body; and
- Secure other important documents that you have found whilst looking for the Will
(see Step 4.6 above).
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Cost & Effort
Reading: 15 mins
Preparing: 30 mins
Completing: 1-2 hrs
Total: 1:45-2:45 hrs
Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.
To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.
To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.
Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.