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Estate Administration

Estate administration involves collecting and distributing the assets of an Estate. 

As an Executor or Administrator of an Estate, you have a variety of obligations to carry out, including:-

1.     Arranging the funeral;

2.     Detailing and securing the assets and liabilities of the Estate;

3.     Understanding the terms of the Will (if any);

4.     Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if required);

5.     Collecting assets and paying liabilities of the Estate;|

6.     Keeping accounting records of the Estate;

7.     Distributing the net Estate to Beneficiaries as directed by the Deceased in his/her Will.

Being an Executor of an Estate can be an overwhelming task.  Senior’s Law @ Rennicks can help you to fulfil your obligations as Executor of an Estate.  We remove the stress and anxiety that is often associated with acting as Executor of an Estate, particularly where the Deceased is a close loved one.  From collecting assets of the Deceased from around the country to dealing with estranged family members, our services cover all circumstances. 

Seniors’ Law @ Rennicks offer a range of advice and assistance in relation to Estate administration, including but not limited to the following:-

(a)     Assisting you to take control of Estate assets and transfer assets to relevant beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the Will;

(b)     Providing detailed yet understandable advice to assist you to understand both your rights and obligations as Executor generally and in unusual circumstances, such as where the Estate may be bankrupt or beneficiaries are unable to be found;

(c)     Arranging for the removal or resignation of an Executor, either by consent or by an order of the Court;

(d)     Assisting with an Executor’s claim for Executor’s commission;

(e)     Liaising with the Estate’s accountant in relation to the taxation of the Estate; and

(f)     Drafting necessary documentation and providing appropriate advice in circumstances where the beneficiaries of the Estate have agreed to distribute the assets of an Estate other than in accordance with the Will of the Deceased;

Grants of Representation

When someone passes away leaving assets, such as property, bank accounts, shares or businesses and personal items (valued at over $20,000 - $50,000), it is often necessary to apply the Supreme Court for a Grant of Representation.

There are two types of straightforward Grants:-

 1. Grant of Probate

You can apply for a Grant of Probate if the Deceased left a Will and you are the Executor. You, as Executor (or Substituted Executor), ask the Court for authority to collect the Deceased's assets and then to distribute those assets to the beneficiaries listed in the Will of the Deceased.

This process includes preparing affidavits (sworn evidence) for provision to the Court detailing the assets and liabilities of the Deceased and promising the Court that you will fulfil the terms of the Will.

2.      Grant of Letters of Administration (intestacy)

You can apply for a:-

2.1   Grant of Letters of Administration with the Will annexed if the Deceased left a Will but the Executor named in the Will has passed away, cannot act for any reason, or cannot be found; or

2.2   Grant of Letters of Administration if the Deceased did not leave a Will.

If the Deceased did not leave a Will this is called intestacy. The law provides that the Deceased’s assets are to be distributed among their family (including domestic partner) in accordance with certain rules.

2.3   Before issuing a Grant of Letters of Administration, the Court may require a Surety Guarantee, which is an undertaking from the Administrator that it will distribute the assets of the Estate correctly. In some circumstances this guarantee can be waived.

If circumstances change after a Grant of Representation has been made and an Executor is no longer willing or able to act, or a later Will comes to light, it may be necessary to seek a Renunciation or a Revocation of the Grant of Representation.

There may be circumstances in which an Executor is unable to obtain a straightforward Grant.  In specific circumstances, it may be necessary to apply for:-

3.     Specialist Grants

Circumstances in which an Executor may be required to apply for a Specialist Grant include the following:-

1.1   The Deceased did not sign their Will correctly;

1.2   The original Will is missing or destroyed and there is only a copy of the Will or a reconstructed Will;

Example –

Part of the Will was accidentally torn off.

1.3   The Estate's assets may be subject to waste or danger,

Example –

The family home has been sold but the Transfer of Land has not been signed and if settlement of the sale of the family home does not proceed the Estate will have to pay penalties or may be sued;

1.4   The sole Administrator of the Estate cannot be found or dies before the Estate is fully administered;

1.5   The Executor dies during the administration of the Estate and there is not a replacement Executor;

1.6   The Executor of the Will is under the age of 18;

1.7   The Executor of the Will does not live in Victoria or leaves Victoria;

1.8   The Estate needs to be administered while litigation is proceeding;

1.9   The Estate is required to be represented in court proceedings;

1.10   The Executor cannot act due to mental incapacity; and

1.11   Proof of Probate or Letters of Administration is required in solemn form (i.e. made by a Judge rather than by the Registrar of Probates)

Each of the above situations requires its own type of Grant and a specialised application to the Court.  Seniors’ Law @ Rennicks can advise you on the available options if you find yourself facing any of the above circumstances, or other circumstances which are not straightforward.

4.     Foreign (non-Victorian) Grants

Sometimes it is necessary to get a Grant in more than one jurisdiction. Generally this is because there are assets in multiple states or countries which require official Grants before they can be sold or transferred. Grants from all other Australian states and territories as well as many Commonwealth countries can be recognised ("resealed") by the Supreme Court of Victoria.

At other times it may be necessary to send an official Court-certified copy of a Victorian Grant to another state or country. These can be obtained by making a special application to the Court.

For further information, please contact Seniors’ Law @ Rennicks on 13 000 RENNICKS (1300 073 664) or email seniorslaw@rennicks.com.au