The death of a loved one is a difficult time. Our experienced lawyers are here to help you through the estate administration process, whether you are the executor or beneficiary of a Will, or the next of kin. We offer timely, sensitive advice and support to help you finalise your loved one’s estate.
“Deceased estate” is the term given to the assets & liabilities of a person who has passed away. This often includes real estate, bank accounts, other investments (such as shares) together with all personal effects. Some estate administration can be complex or involve assets owned in different jurisdictions (e.g. property in different states or overseas), and it is essential to obtain appropriate legal and financial advice regarding these assets.
Not all assets form part of the deceased estate, e.g. superannuation, some jointly held assets and assets held in trusts may not be covered and further steps may be required in relation to these assets.
WHAT IS PROBATE?
- Where there is a Will, the executors may apply to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Probate in order to deal with the deceased estate
- Probate is simply a document issued by the Court which provides formal recognition that a Will is valid, and that the named executor/s have authority to administer the deceased estate
- Probate is generally required for estates over a certain monetary value, or where it is otherwise advisable to obtain (e.g. there is a possible claim against the Will), but an estate can be administered without it
- A Grant of Probate also offers greater protection to the executor/s
WHAT ARE LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION?
- Letters of Administration is also a document issued by the Supreme Court
- They are required where there is no Will, or where there is a Will but it results in intestacy or where there is no available executor/s to administer the estate
- To obtain Letters of Administration, the next of kin makes a formal application to the Supreme Court to be appointed as an administrator of a deceased estate
- The law sets out who may apply for Letters of Administration, and a “pecking order” of eligible applicants applies
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ADMINISTER A DECEASED ESTATE?
- This largely depends on the size of the estate, the co-operation of executors and beneficiaries, the requirements of asset holders and whether any family provision application is threatened or commenced against the estate.
- Some deceased are finalised within a matter of months, others can take years. The important thing to remember is that obtaining legal advice as quickly as possible can help to minimise delays and expedite the process.