The process of Estate Administration is dependent on a number of factors, such as whether or not the deceased left a Will, the size of the Estate, and the types of assets.
Where there are substantial assets, the person administering the Estate usually needs to obtain a grant of Probate or, if there is no Will, a grant of Letters of Administration. Small estates can sometimes be administered without a grant. The estate is administered by ensuring that all debts have been paid, and that the estate is distributed to the people entitled either under the will or on intestacy.
DBH Wills and Estates Lawyers are experienced in handling all aspects of Estate Administration, including:
A grant of Probate (registration of a Will by the Supreme Court) is usually required to enable the assets of an Estate to be dealt with by an Executor named in the Will.
Large amounts of money and assets – typically property or land – cannot be sold or transferred without the grant of Probate. It is sometimes possible for small estates to be managed without a grant of Probate. If an Executor has not been nominated or appointed, an application must be made for a grant of Letters of Administration with the Will annexed.
Intestate Estates & Letters of Administration
If a person dies without leaving a Will, they are said to die ‘intestate’. If this happens, there are laws about how the Estate is to be distributed, which typically, provide for the Estate to pass to the next of kin.
In the case of an intestacy, Letters of Administration (rather than Probate) must be applied for in order to deal with any substantial assets of the Estate. The most obvious disadvantage of intestacy is that the deceased has no control over the distribution of the estate or the appointment of the administrator.
Superannuation entitlements do not automatically form part of a person’s Estate.
The trustee of a Superannuation fund has a discretion to pay a member’s entitlements either to their Estate, or to any person who was considered dependent on the deceased (usually spouses or children). In order to claim a Superannuation death benefit, it is usually necessary to prove dependency on the deceased at the date of death. If there are no dependents, the benefit can be claimed by the Executor or administrator and distributed as part of the Estate.