Wills & Estates
We want to help you through the process after losing someone close to you
Specialising in this complex area of law in both Queensland and New South Wales, we have the state-specific knowledge and expertise to assist you with all aspects of deceased estate administration.
We understand that administering a deceased estate can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process. If you are the Executor named in a Will of someone who has recently died, we can provide you with expert advice to ensure the estate matters are handled as quickly and efficiently as possible and your responsibilities are fulfilled. If you are the next of kin of a person who died without a Will, or are a beneficiary seeking information on how you can receive your share from an estate, we can help you understand your rights and guide you through this difficult time.
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Our estate administration services include:
We understand that the duties of an Executor can be quite onerous. We can assist Executor’s with understanding their responsibilities and:
- locating the original Will;
- obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration from the Supreme Court;
- calling in the assets of the estate;
- tending to the payment of the deceased’s debts;
- defending any litigation or claims made against the estate;
- any other matter that requires a representative’s input on behalf of the estate.
We can assist Executors with obtaining probate of a Will by applying to the Supreme Court to approve or authenticate the Will so that the deceased’s assets can be called in and distributed to the beneficiaries.
When a person dies without a valid Will, we can assist the next of kin to apply to the Supreme Court for letters of administration to allow that person to deal with the assets of the deceased.
Once probate has been obtained, a certified copy of the probate is sent to all relevant banks, financial institutions, government departments and assets are either transferred over to the Executors for sale or released to the Executor’s Lawyer.
The administration of an estate involves the collection and distribution of the assets and payment of liabilities of a deceased person in accordance with their Will, or with the law if they died without a valid Will.
If you believe a loved one has passed away without a Will, then we can help you understand the process of dealing with the estate in accordance with the laws of intestacy. It is important to get advice as soon as possible to ensure you are the most appropriate person/people to be handling this process as there may be someone who has a higher, or equal, priority to you to handle this process that may need to be consulted with first.
If you are a beneficiary in an estate and are having problems getting information, we can help you. Beneficiaries of estates have certain rights which are protected by law.
Superannuation is a complex area that does not necessarily form part of an estate when a loved one has died. If you believe you may be entitled to make a claim against a recently passed loved one’s superannuation, it is important to seek advice as soon as possible to understand your rights and potential entitlement.
Estate taxation is also a particularly complex area that is forever changing and can be very confusing for the Executor or Administrator of an estate. We can assist you in understanding the process as well as your obligations to ensure that you are fulfilling your duties .
The purpose of obtaining probate is to satisfy the relevant government departments, banks and other institutions that hold the assets of the deceased, that they can release those assets to the Executors with confidence that the Will is the last Will of the deceased and has been correctly executed. Probate is essentially a confirmation by the Supreme Court of the authenticity of the Will.
Letters of Administration are required when the deceased has died intestate (i.e. without a Will) or where the nominated Executor has themselves died or is unable to undertake their duties as executor. An administrator will be appointed by the Supreme Court to administer the estate.
The process of obtaining a grant of probate can take 8 to 12 weeks from the date of death. Once a grant of probate has been obtained, the calling in of the assets can commence.
If you have been appointed as an Executor, you should be aware of the role, the costs and what is expected of you. Although it is not a legal requirement to do so, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible from Lawyers who specialise in this area.
Administering a deceased person’s estate can be very complex and takes considerable time to undertake all the tasks required. There are legal requirements that must be satisfied to comply with law.
Many people are under the assumption because they have been appointed as an Executor that they need to accept the appointment and move on with the role. This is not the case. Executors can renounce their appointment. If you choose to renounce your position, this needs to be done immediately. You can’t renounce once you have begun intermeddling in the estate.
Many people believe there is a central ‘Wills register’ that Lawyers can refer to, to locate a Will. Unfortunately, this is not the case and finding a lost Will can become a timely and costly exercise.
There are some initial steps you can take to try to locate someone’s Will, however it can be a process of elimination. If possible, you will need to check the deceased’s last known residence and search through personal possessions or paperwork. If this has not helped, you can contact the person’s bank to see if they held a safety deposit box or had documents held in safe custody or securities. You can also try to contact local lawyers where the deceased person resided and ask if they happen to hold a copy of the Will for the deceased.
Next you can contact the Public Trust Office in your State or Territory to begin a search for any Wills they may have in their custody.
If these steps have not helped, you can submit a request to the Supreme Court to search the Probate Office as they maintain a Will registry where the deceased may have chosen to deposit their Will for safe keeping (fees do apply). You can also make a request for a Lawyer to place an advertisement in the “Lost Wills” section of the Law Society Journal for other Lawyers State-wide to see. And, if all else fails, you should check the deceased person’s computer and smart phone where they may have electronic copies of a Will or evidence of their testamentary intentions.
An Executor must consider the merit of all claims made against an estate and the legal interests of a claimant, alongside the commercial reality of litigation.
Litigation is expensive and if an Executor can avoid that expense for the estate, they should, when a claim has merit.
An Executor should seek legal advice as soon as possible from a qualified Lawyer who works in this area if someone signals an intention to claim against an estate.
The Executor has a fiduciary obligation to the beneficiaries of the estate to act in their best interests. If an Executor is behaving inappropriately and not performing their duties, beneficiaries can seek removal of an Executor from office. Proceedings for the removal of an Executor can be taken by any party who has sufficient interest in the estate.
If you are the beneficiary of an estate and feel the Executor is not adequately performing their duties, contact our team as soon as possible by phoning 1800 621 071 to determine the best course of action.