It is always a difficult time when a person passes away. During this period however it is important for someone to attend to the issue of their will (if they left one) and their estate.
The duties required in relation to the deceased person’s estate may be very simple, or they may be complicated, emotional and time-consuming. There are legal rules and obligations that must be followed which may include an application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration from the Supreme Court of Victoria.
When a person passes away with a Will, ordinarily a Grant of Probate must be obtained. Probate is the legal term given to the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. Probate in Victoria is applied for through the Supreme Court of Victoria, and is the acknowledgement by the Executor appointed that the Will is valid.
Once Probate is granted, the Executor must:
- Act in accordance with their duties as an Executor,
- Resolve all potential challenges to the Will, and
- Distribute the deceased person’s property in accordance with their Will.
There are many ways McClure Law can assist with the probate process ranging from limited fixed fee guidance right through to dealing with the entire estate administration process, where the assets and liabilities are complex, taxes may be payable, and there may be missing beneficiaries or trusts involved.
Duties as an Executor include:
- Draw up accounts providing all the details of assets and liabilities
- Possibly appoint a Lawyer
- Obtain a copy of the Will and carry out instructions within certain time limits.
- If necessary, register the death and assist with funeral arrangements.
- Ensure assets are listed and if necessary made secure.
- Gather all financial paperwork
- Locate any life insurance policies and paperwork
- Find all household bills & debts including those that are unpaid
- Collect together all tax records and business related paperwork
- If the deceased person is a business owner, all paperwork relating to the business will be needed
- Gather details of professional advisors such as accountants
- Complete a tax return if needed
- Locate beneficiaries and possibly creditors and possibly advertise in local or national papers for any missing beneficiaries
- Distribute the assets after payment of liabilities, including any tax
If a person passes away without a Will, it is likely someone will have to apply for a grant of Letters of Administration through the Supreme Court of Victoria.
It is important to note that the distribution of your assets will normally be distributed by a specific formula - usually between your nearest blood relatives, no matter how long ago you saw them! The distribution might not be the same as your wishes, and your favourite possession might not go to your beloved Granddaughter - as you had always intended.