Frequently Asked Questions
1. What happened to the XYZ Trustee Company, which drew up my father's will 30 years ago?
2. How can I locate my mother's will?
3. How can I track down a trust that I believe was set up by my grandparents some years ago?
4. Which trustee corporations operate in my region?
5. I am looking for information on bankruptcy trustees in relation to personal insolvency?
6. Why is a valid Will important?
7. What are the responsibilities of an executor?
8. What are powers of attorney?
9. What fees do trustee corporations charge?
10. What should I do if I have a concern about my dealings with a trustee corporation?
Q1 What happened to the XYZ Trustee Company, which drew up my father's will 30 years ago?
Please see our table of Former Trustee Corporations. [return to top]
Q2 How can I locate my mother's will?
There is no central register of wills. If you are trying to locate a will, you should check with the trustee corporations operating in your State or Territory (see Trustee Services Member Details), or with your family solicitor or accountant.
In NSW, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages maintains a voluntary 'Wills Register' that enables a person to record where their will is kept, who made the will and who is executor. Next of kin may search the register after providing proof of death of the testator.
In WA, the Public Trustee offers a will storage service, for wills that name the Public Trustee or someone else as executor. [return to top]
Q3 How can I track down a trust that I believe was set up by my grandparents some years ago?
There is no central register of trusts. You should approach the trustee corporations operating in your region (see Trustee Services Member Details), or a solicitor or accountant who may have handled family business in the past. [return to top]
Q4 Which trustee corporations operate in my region?
See Trustee Services Member Details. [return to top]
Q5 I am looking for information on bankruptcy trustees in relation to personal insolvency?
Statutory trustee corporations do not usually undertake personal bankruptcy business. You should approach Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA), the relevant Federal Government agency for this matter. Head Office (ACT) phone (02) 6270 3401. Website: www.itsa.gov.au. [return to top]
Q6 Why is a valid Will important?
A properly prepared Will allows a person to set out how their assets are to be distributed after their death. To be valid, a Will must adhere to specific legal formalities, including requirements for having it witnessed, as expressed in the relevant State or Territory's succession law.
If a person dies without a legal Will, that is "intestate", their estate will be divided according to the relevant succession law. This may not be consistent with the wishes of the deceased and the process may involve delays and additional expense.
Trustee Services Members are acknowledged specialists in this area and can ensure that your Will is properly prepared so as to give legal effect to your wishes. [return to top]
Q7 What are the responsibilities of an executor?
An executor has the responsibility of distributing a deceased person's assets in accordance with that person's wishes as expressed in their will. This can be a complex and time-consuming task, and must be handled with great care as the executor can be held accountable for any losses caused by negligence.
It can also be a stressful job, particularly if disputes arise about the deceased's intentions.
Administering an estate can involve a number of steps:
- determining and protecting the assets of the deceased, including arranging insurance as necessary,
- determining the deceased's liabilities,
- preparing statement of assets and liabilities,
- conferring with family regarding any immediate financial needs,
- advertising intention to apply for grant of probate (ie official recognition that the will is valid),
- obtaining grant of probate from Court,
- conferring with beneficiaries,
- obtaining income tax clearance,
- realising and distributing assets,
- preparing accounts and tax information,
- establishing trusts if required, and
- continuing asset management if required.
Trustee corporations are very experienced in estate administration, and can provide professional, impartial service in this area. [return to top]
Q8 What are powers of attorney?
A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to nominate one or more persons (called "attorneys") to act on your behalf in financial matters while you are alive. That authority only remains valid while you have legal capacity - that is, the ability to manage your affairs. It also ceases when you die - the executor of your Will then assumes responsibility for your estate.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) allows you to appoint an attorney(s) to make all or certain financial decisions for you. Importantly, an EPA continues to be valid even if you lose legal capacity.
FSC Trustee Services Members are very experienced in this area and can assist you in preparing an appropriate power of attorney. They will also act as your attorney if you wish.
For information on Enduring Guardianships, which allow you to give authority to a nominated person(s) to make decisions on your behalf regarding personal, health and lifestyle matters, see the Australian Guardianship and Administration Committee website (www.ijcga.gov.au) for the relevant guardianship tribunal etc in your State or Territory. [return to top]
Q9 What fees do trustee corporations charge?
Details of the charges that apply to the various services offered are available on members' websites (see Trustee Services Member Details). Some Fees are subject to government controls. [return to top]
Q10 What should I do if I have a concern about my dealings with a trustee corporation?
Initially, you should request a copy of the Member's internal dispute resolution procedure. If you are not able to resolve the matter through that process, you may notify the Trustee Services Senior Policy Manager in writing at The Financial Services Council, Level 24, 44 Market Street, Sydney NSW 2000 and we will ensure that the matter is brought to the direct attention of the member's Chief Executive Officer.
If the problem is still not dealt with to your satisfaction, we will advise you of an appropriate external dispute resolution procedure. [return to top]