All of the assets and property belonging to someone who dies are referred to as the deceased’s “estate” in legal terms. If the person has left a will, it will usually appoint one or more “executor/s of the estate” whose job it is to “administer” the estate. If no executor of the estate has been named in the will, the task of administering the estate will usually fall to the deceased’s next of kin.
Applying for a Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration
If you’ve been left the task of administering the estate, you will need to decide if a grant is required before you begin. Some estates may be administered informally without a grant. This however requires any institution holding assets to be prepared to release assets without a grant. They may do this if the amount is small and there are no complications. A grant will not be required if the only assets are held as joint tenants.
A grant will always be required if the deceased person owned real estate in his or her own name or held an interest in real estate with another party as tenant in common.
The Supreme Court of south Australia has exclusive jurisdiction to make orders in relation to the validity of a will, the appointment of an executor or an administrator or a deceased estate. Following an application process, the grant will be issues which could be in any of the following three forms:
- Letters of administration with the will annexed
- Letters of administration
All grants must be in accordance with the Rules of Court and require careful attention and a significant understanding of the process and procedures.
It is a good idea to have expert advice from a wills and estates lawyer. This will usually save you significant time and expense in the long run. Your wills and estate lawyer will help you document all required information for the grant, including proof of death, the will, your affidavit and the property inventory with details about assets. If you’re having difficulty obtaining a copy of the will, contact us for advice on how to proceed.
Duties of the Executor of the Estate
If you have engaged a wills and estates lawyer they will assist you through the following processes. The next step will be to make a list of all of the deceased’s assets, including their property, financial assets, any payments they were entitled to, their insurance policies and physical assets such as their car, furniture, appliances etc.
You will be responsible for managing and maintaining the assets until they are released to beneficiaries. You’ll also be responsible for paying the deceased’s debts and expenses using money in the estate (or money acquired by selling their assets); this has to be done before any assets can be distributed to beneficiaries.
Next, you’ll need a distribution report to give to the beneficiaries. The report details the assets, how you’ve managed them (including what you’ve sold) and which debts you’ve paid.
Lastly, you can distribute the remaining assets and possessions in accordance with the will. If you don’t yet have a specialist wills and estate lawyer to guide you through the complicated steps of administering an estate, Williams Barristers and Solicitors can help.