Our Wills & Estates team understand the difficulties families may face when a loved one has passed away.

We provide expert, tailored advice in a sensitive and timely manner in estate administration, which can often be a complex process, throughout the time when you are grieving the loss of a loved one.

When someone passes away leaving assets such as property, bank accounts, shares and businesses, it is often necessary to make an application to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Representation. There are three types of straight forward Grants of Representation:

Grant of ProbateYou can apply for a Grant of Probate if the deceased person left a Will and named you as Executor. If the Court grants you Probate, you have authority to collect the assets of the Estate and distribute them in accordance with the Will.
Letters of AdministrationYou can apply for Letters of Administration if you are the next of kin of the deceased and they left no Will. The Estate is then distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy, as per the Administration and Probate Act 1958.
Letters of Administration with the Will AnnexedLetters of Administration with the Will Annexed are applied for 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.

Once the Grant of Representation is obtained, the Executor or Administrator has the authority to administer the Estate.  Regardless of the type of Grant of Representation obtained, the role of the Executor or Administrator will stay the same.

Being an Executor or Administrator can be overwhelming and it comes with particular duties and obligations which must be complied with which include:

Arranging the funeral:This includes not only planning the funeral but also paying for it in some occasions. Whilst the cost of the funeral can often be reimbursed to you from the Estate, in some circumstances, you may need to pay for all or part of the funeral.
This role also includes following the deceased’s wishes, if any, in relation to burial or cremation.
Identifying assets and liabilities:Part of the role of being an Executor or Administrator includes identifying all assets and liabilities of the Estate, including property, cash, investments, shares, credit cards, loans and so on. This will form part of an inventory of assets and liabilities which is required when applying for a Grant of Representation.
Applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration:In cases where the Estate is worth more than $20,000 – $50,000, it will be necessary to make an application to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Representation. Once lodged, it usually take 2-3 weeks for Probate or Letters of Administration to be granted.
Collecting assets and paying liabilities:Once Probate or Letters of Administration have been granted, the assets of the estate must be sold, transferred to the beneficiaries or collected in. Any liabilities of the estate must also be paid.
Keeping accounts:It is important to keep a record of all incoming and outgoing expenses of the Estate as assets are collected and distributions are made. In most cases, it will also be necessary to complete a Tax Return.
Distributing the Estate:Ensuring that the Estate is distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will of the deceased.

Our Wills & Estates team can step you through the process of an Executor or Administrator and provide you with advice to ensure you are properly advised over the course of the Estate and complete the role to the best of your ability.

There may be circumstances where an Executor is unable to apply for a straight forward Grant of Representation. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to apply for a Specialist Grant or Foreign (non-Victorian) Grant. Rennick & Gaynor is able to assist you in making these types of applications so get in touch with us today.