We can help you to administer an estate and ensure the assets are divided in accordance with the deceased’s wishes and requirements of the law.
Probate is the process of proving and registering a deceased person’s Will in the Supreme Court.
In most cases, the Executor of a Will needs a grant of probate to gain legal capacity to deal with the deceased’s assets. Without a grant of probate you will not be recognised as having the right to deal with the deceased’s assets by the asset holders, such as banks, financial institutions, stockbrokers, the Land Titles Office, etc.
Once a person receives a grant of probate they are able to administer the estate and distribute the deceased person’s assets.
Although probate is usually required when administering an estate, there are situations where probate is not necessary including where property is held as joint tenants. This may include the family home, joint bank accounts, motor vehicles and more. In these examples the deceased’s portion of the jointly held asset does not form part of the estate and passes on to the surviving joint tenant. Importantly, where assets are held as tenants-in-common the deceased’s share in that property will form part of their estate and probate is required.
Executors of a Will can avoid probate when the deceased person’s assets are low value. Entities such as banks and share registries each have a different threshold amount under which they will release the deceased’s assets without a grant of probate. The total value of the assets must be below this threshold before probate, or a letter of administration is necessary. In some cases we may contact the entity holding the deceased’s assets outlining why probate is not necessary in order to have them released.
Dying without a Will is called dying ‘intestate’ If this happens, an application needs to be made to the Supreme Court for ‘Letters of Administration’ – a document providing the court’s formal approval for someone to administer the estate of the deceased. Such applications are usually completed by the next of kin.
Letters of Administration are also required when a deceased person leaves a Will where the named Executors in the last Will have already passed away or are unable to act as the Executor of the deceased’s estate.
In this case, a person known as the ‘administrator’ will apply to the Supreme Court for a Letter of Administration for legal authority to administer the deceased person’s estate instead of an executor named in the dead person’s Will.
We can assist you in determining if probate or letters of administration are required.
Upon obtaining a grant of probate (or letters of administration) the executor (or administrator) can begin the task of carrying out the instructions of the Will.
This commonly involves liquidating bank accounts, transferring shares and property, and distributing the deceased’s personal items. Prior to the distribution of these assets to beneficiaries the executor must have appropriately advertised the intention to apply for probate in the relevant place, to ensure that no claims exist and no later version of the Will exists.
Before any beneficiaries receive their gifts it is the responsibility of the executor (or administrator) to complete payment for the deceased’s death and testamentary expenses and pay any outstanding debts out of the estate monies.
The executor (or administrator) must also complete any final tax returns and transfer all entitlements under the Will as appropriate. The executor may be entitled to compensation for their contributions in carrying out the duties of administering an estate.
We will advise you of the appropriate wait time before distribution to the beneficiaries to ensure no late claims are made and accepted post distribution.
Often after someone has died, decisions need to be made regarding that person’s property. Sometimes property must be sold to pay debts or divide assets. Our in-house conveyancing team work closely with our estates lawyers in delivering quality property transfer services.
There are several steps required of the executor when selling property of the deceased. An executor must:
We have all of the necessary skills and experience to assist you with all of your estate administration needs. Contact us today to book your consultation.