Deceased Estate Administration
When a person dies, their assets are generally frozen. Legal steps need to be taken before it will be possible to:
- Access bank accounts and super funds
- Transfer real estate and other assets
- Pay debts
- Attend to taxation matters
Our firm can assist you with these requirements.
Where do you start?
After a person dies it is necessary to determine whether they had a Will, whether it is valid, and whether any of the named executors are able or willing to act in that role.Once that has been determined it is then necessary to look at the estate assets to determined whether a grant of probate is required. Some assets can be transferred by the Executor without formalities of obtaining such a grant. This is usually only if the estate assets are quite small and there is no real estate property involved. We can help you determine whether and what type of application needs to be made. If an application to the Supreme Court is required, then we can help you make this application.
Do you need to apply for a grant of probate?
If the deceased person died with a legal will, it is usually necessary to obtain a grant of probate of the Will from the Supreme Court. A grant of the probate from the Supreme Court is the legal authority certifying that the will is valid. The grant of probate allows the executor to administer the estate according to probate law and to distribute assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. Without this grant, most financial institutions, and the Land Titles Office will not allow the named executor to deal with the estate assets.
Do you need a grant of letters of administrations?
If the deceased person died without a legal will, a grant of letters of administration may be required from the Supreme Court. This grant appoints an administrator who will then have the same powers and obligations as an executor to deal with the assets and liabilities of the estate. Where a person dies without legal will, the law determines who will receive the estate.
What is the role of the executor once probate has been granted?
An executors role is to gather in the estate’s assets and distribute those assets to the beneficiaries. Basically this involves writing to all the relevant institutions, satisfying their various requirements to withdraw the assets, banking the assets, selling or transferring any shared or real estate property, arranging for a tax return and payment of the tax, and finally attending to the distribution of the assets. It can be a time consuming and often complicated task to gather in these estate assets. This is particularly so if shares are involved, or numerous accounts are held with different financial institutions.
Even once the estate assets are called in, debts must be paid (including tax) and the estate distributed among the beneficiaries. Most executors either don’t have enough time, or the skills (and often patience) required to carry out these tasks on their own. Further, if an executor makes a mistake, the executor may be personally liable to the beneficiaries to correct this error. Our firm can assist you in all aspects of estate administration so that the estate is wound up as quickly as possible with the least stress and inconvenience to the executor.
Victoria Chambers, 5 Victoria Lane, Pall Mall, Bendigo.
Victoria Lane runs off Pall Mall, between Mitchell Street and Williamson Street. The entrance to the lane can be found near the Colonial Bank building, housing Bunja Thai.