Probate & Estate Administration

You benefit from our daily experience in probate & estates
What is Estate Administration

Estate administration can be summarised as the process of winding up the financial affairs of the deceased.

There are essentially 3 distinct stages of estate administration, being:

  • Ascertaining the deceased’s assets and liabilities and deciding whether to obtain a grant of representation (example: probate)
  • Preserving and calling in the deceased’s assets and payment of estate expenses
  • Distribution of the estate and lodgement of tax returns.

As an executor you can engage us for any of the above stages or for the whole process.

Solicitors Experienced in Estate Administration

Freeman Lawyers specialises in all areas of estate administration.

We regularly provide advice and court representation in the following areas:

  • Advice in relation to the terms of a will
  • Applying for grant of probate
  • Applying for Letters of Administration if the deceased died without a valid will
  • Applying for Letters of Administration with a substitute executor
  • Applying for probate on a photocopy of a will if the original will has been lost or destroyed
  • Transferring real property to the executor as personal representative, surviving partner or directly to the beneficiaries
  • Collecting and realising assets of the deceased such as bank accounts, shares, superannuation and investments
  • Attending to payment of the deceased’s liabilities from the estate funds
  • Distribution of the proceeds of the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will.

With more than 25 years of combined experience in estate administration, we are able to look after your estate administration in an efficient, professional and timely manner.

We pay your outlays and defer your fees until your matter is completed

There are 3 types of a grant of representation being:

  • A grant of probate
  • A grant of letters of administration with the will
  • A grant of letters of administration on intestacy.

One of the first steps in estate administration is to decide whether you need to obtain a grant of representation.

Probate is the formal recognition by the Supreme Court of the deceased’s will and authorises the executor to act for the estate. The authorised person under probate is called the executor.

A grant of letters of administration is similar to probate. The grant appoints a person to administer the deceased’s estate. Here the authorised person is called an administrator.

Whether you need to obtain a grant of representation or not will depend on a number of factors, including the type of assets in the estate.

For example if the deceased had a bank account with a balance over the bank’s limit for releasing the funds without a grant of representation, then the executor has limited options but to apply for a grant of representation. Each bank and financial institution has its own guideline for when a grant of representation is required.

Some advantages of obtaining a grant of representation include:

  • Limiting the personal representative’s liability for debts where a statutory notice to claimants has been provided
  • Formal recognition of the right to act for an estate.

The next stage in administering an estate includes:

  • Preserving the deceased’s assets
  • Calling in the deceased’s assets, such as closing bank accounts, selling shares, closing superannuation accounts and transferring real property into the personal representative’s name
  • Paying debts of the estate.

Once you have decided whether to obtain a grant of representation, the deceased’s assets are called in and estate debts are paid, the next step is to lodge tax returns (if required) and distribute the estate.

The executor or administrator is required to lodge a tax return:

  • For the deceased up to the date of death
  • For the estate, from the date of death to the end of the financial year, and for each financial year until the estate is finalised.

If there is a will then it is a case of distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

Where there is no will, then distribution is in accordance with the law of intestacy.

Unless certain steps are taken, a personal representative is liable for debts owed by the deceased.

This is a very difficult period and an emotional one for those involved. If you have been appointed as an executor we recommend you call us initially to obtain complimentary advice over the phone regarding what your legal responsibilities and obligations are.

Once we know the assets, liabilities and any issues involved, we can advise you of the steps and timeframes necessary to finalise the estate administration.

We focus on finalising your estate administration quickly