Regardless of who is appointed as executor, all beneficiaries must be informed if the deceased has left a valid will, informing them of any claims being made against the estate and how such claims may impact what the beneficiaries feel they may be entitled to. Being able to obtain assistance from the Public Trustee, will depend on whether or not they have been appointed as attorney. If they have, they can provide assistance in what is known as Future Assist or Active Assist. Active Assist will enable you to choose exactly the level of assistance that you require through the use of Power of Attorney, to conduct and maintain everyday financial issues, such as bill payments, property management and collection of any incomes. They are able to deal with any and all matters you empower unto them, so they can take care of any issues if you are unable to do them yourself. Future Assist is essentially a safety net, that allows the Public Trustee to take control and manage the financial affairs, if for any reason, you become unable to actually do so yourself.
The Public Trustee and the lawyer
The Public Trustee in NSW operates under different legislation from that which covers a lawyer. Fees for administering an estate are set by the Government and are structured in a different way from how a private legal firm operates, as the lawyer will generally charge based on the amount of time they have actually spent on a case. Some cases can be quite complex and time consuming, and of course, some lawyers have higher hourly rates than others. This is not to say that the quality of service provided by the Public Trustee is of a lesser quality, though a lawyer is paid to go through everything with a fine tooth comb and may pick up on some things the Public Trustee may possibly miss.
In case of an error or dispute
There is no official public registry of wills in NSW, though there a number of providers who can facilitate a wills registration. The NSW Trustee and Guardian offers secure storage for wills and members of the public can make an inquiry with them in the case of a deceased person, to see if they are holding it. If you are a beneficiary of a will being held by the Public Trustee and are dissatisfied with how they are dealing with it, or if you feel that you have been unfairly excluded from a will being held by and dealt with by them, your best course of action is to consult swiftly with your local professional legal services provider, which you will be able to easily find through Yellow Pages or a quick Internet search.
Contesting a will is not a simple procedure and you will need to be able to show clear evidence, that the will has been prepared in a way that can be considered to be grossly unfair to one or more persons, or some other inconsistency. This is not something that you are likely to have much success with, without professional assistance, from people who are well versed and knowledgeable of the very complex issues within wills legislation.