If someone close to you has died without a Will or you're the Executor appointed in their Will, we are here to guide you through the legal process of administering their estate.
Over the last 50 years, we have helped hundreds of people living in the North Eastern suburbs of Melbourne successfully navigate their way through the legal process associated with collecting and distributing their assets to beneficiaries and paying their debts.
This process usually takes a year and risks may arise if you distribute the estate earlier than six months after receiving the Grant of Probate.
If the estate is large or complex or the beneficiaries are unhappy and decide to challenge the Will, this can be a difficult and time consuming role. You can also be sued if you don't administer the estate correctly, or in a timely manner.
That's why you need expert help.
How we help
As an Executor or Administrator, your major tasks include:
- Organise the death certificate and locate the Will
- Apply for a Grant of Probate
- Gather details about the assets and liabilities of the estate
- Ensure the estate assets are safe and insured
- Obtain valuations for the assets
- Sell the assets
- Complete income tax returns for the deceased
- Pay debts
- Set up trusts
- Distribute the assets.
You must act in the interests of the estate and the beneficiaries and avoid any conflict of interest or breach of fiduciary duty.
Applying to become the Administrator
If someone close to you has died without a Will (ie your parents or spouse), we will help you apply for a Grant of Letter of Administration from the Supreme Court of Victoria. This is usually granted to the next of kin with the largest claim on the estate. In this situation, the Administration and Probate Act 1985 (Vic) sets out the order in which the estate should be distributed.
Applying for Grant of Probate
As a general rule, you need to obtain a 'Grant of Probate' if there is property in the estate, if the person who died was in aged care, owned property or if there are assets worth more than $50,000. A Grant of Probate is a legal document that allows an Executor to administer the estate.
We can help you apply for a Grant of Probate from the Victorian Supreme Court. If the circumstances of the estate create a need for a Grant of Probate, then you must obtain a Grant before you can collect and distribute any assets of the estate.
Expert Support for Executors and Administrators
Our expert Wills & Estate lawyers provide sound legal advice and guidance on how to carry out the role of Executor or Administrator, ensuring you fulfil your legal obligations and minimise the risk of being sued.
We can also help you by undertaking some or all of these responsibilities on your behalf.
We also offer expert advice on issues that can occur, including managing disputes with beneficiaries, requests to distribute the assets of the estate early and setting up trusts for beneficiaries who are too young or incapable of managing their share of the estate.
Download our Guide to Wills, Powers of Attorney and Estate Planning for more helpful information!
1. Meet with us
We start this process by organising an initial meeting with one of the highly experienced lawyers from our Wills and Estate Planning team.
This meeting is all about gaining an understanding of the estate of the person who has died and of the beneficiaries of the estate.
We will explain the process involved with granting probate and managing the estate, discuss what support you might need as an Administrator or Executor and any potential issues that may occur in administering the estate.
You need to bring the following items to the meeting:
- the latest Will and death certificate of the person who has died
- information about the assets of the estate (e.g. property titles, share certificates, bank account information, superannuation statements etc)
- information about the debts of the estate (e.g. mortgages, credit card statements, loan documents etc)
- information about the beneficiaries (names, contact details, ages, special needs, relationship to the person who died etc).
This first meeting will cost $390 (including GST) and usually takes about an hour.
2. Prepare a Costs Estimate
Based on the discussions and information gathered at our first meeting and your requirements, we will then prepare a Costs Estimate which clearly explains our costs.
Please note, our costs are paid for by the estate (not you as the Executor).
3. Apply for a Grant of Probate and Administer the Estate
If you are happy to proceed, we will then start working with you to administer the estate. The first step is usually to apply for a Grant of Probate.
The whole process can take up to 12 months. It concludes when we have distributed all the remaining assets of the estate (after paying all the debts) to the beneficiaries.