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What is probate?

Before the estate of someone who has died can be distributed, the person or people who are going to carry out the will’s bequests must apply through court for the legal authority to do so. This is called a grant of probate. It gives one or more people the legal authority to manage the estate. There are three different types of grant of representation:

  • Probate: If an executor is named in the will, they must apply for probate.
  • Letters of administration: If there is no valid will, the court will grant letters of administration to an appropriate person, usually a beneficiary.
  • Letters of administration with the will annexed: If there is no named executor in the will, or if the named executor wishes to renounce their role, the court will grant letters of administration with the will annexed. Usually this is granted to an appropriate beneficiary of the will.

If you have been named as the executor, you need to be granted probate before you can start managing the estate according to the will. Managing the estate includes giving out inheritance money and gifts, settling debts, and selling property.

 

Why is probate important?

Probate gives the Executor the legal authority to deal with the deceased assets. This includes things such as bank accounts, property or shares that need to be distributed to the beneficiaries stated in the Will.

Often there is a threshold of ‘value’ that must be reached to require probate. For example, if the deceased may have left money in a sole bank account, the bank may require a grant of probate to release the funds for distribution by the Executor. Similarly, if they owned shares, the trading platform may require probate to transfer ownership.

For smaller assets, a death certificate or Will may be sufficient, how it is crucial to check the requirements for each state and governing body.

 

Applying for probate

To apply for probate you must be over 18 and an executor named in the will of the person who has died.

Applications for probate will incur a fee, often of several hundred dollars, but again this can usually be reclaimed from the estate. Fees vary widely between states and can change frequently, so it is always best to check the current fee before applying for probate. It’s a good idea to apply using a probate expert to make sure it’s been done properly. Visit your state and territory’s probate registry for more information.

 

What happens next?

The grant of representation, proof that you have obtained probate, will be posted to you in the following weeks. The time it takes to process probate varies from state to state, but can take as long as eight weeks. Once you receive these documents, you have the legal authority to manage the estate.

 

When is Probate not required?

Sometimes estates can be administered ‘informally’; that is, without a grant of representation. This is sometimes possible if the sum value of the estate is quite small, or if all of the assets are held in a joint bank account. If in doubt, it is best to consult with a legal advisor.

 

Book a free consultation with a wills and probate expert

We understand you’ve got a lot to deal with right now – especially if you’re responsible for managing the affairs of your loved one. When the funeral is over, you may need to apply for the right to deal with your loved one’s estate: their property, money and possessions.

Let us help. We can connect you with probate and estate planning experts to help you organise your estate and create the legal documents to protect you and your loved ones should you fall ill or pass away unexpectedly.

 

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT ESTATE PLANNING

Estate planning is a generic term for sorting your financial interests before your death. Your estate relates to everything you own at the time of death, encompassing everything from real estate to personal property such as belongings, cars, etc.

An estate planning lawyer will help you understand what is involved in an estate plan, including the appropriate documentation for your situation. Typically you’ll need a lawyer to help you draft a will or trust (or both).

 

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How will estate planning benefit me?

There are several important benefits of estate planning, including:

  • Peace of mind. The biggest benefit of estate planning is the peace of mind it provides, ensuring that your hard-earned assets will be distributed according to your wishes.
  • Financial support for the people you care about. By developing a comprehensive estate plan, you can guarantee that your assets go to the right people.
  • Eliminates disputes. A clear will and a good estate plan will help your loved ones avoid arguments, disputes and even messy legal battles about the fair distribution of your assets.
  • Tax-effective. With help from legal and financial professionals, you can distribute your assets in a way that minimises the tax obligations your heirs will face.
  • More than just money. Estate planning is about much more than just dividing up your finances; it also allows you to ensure that you receive the medical care you want, that your children are properly cared for if you die unexpectedly, and even that you’re given the funeral you want.

 

Why do I need an estate planning lawyer?

Although wills and trusts can be created without the assistance of an estate planning lawyer, it’s important to note that these documents are some of the most important that you’ll ever sign! Given what is at stake, it’s worth getting assistance just to make sure you’ve got everything covered.

 

How much will an estate planning lawyer charge?

Typically estate planning lawyers charge by the hour, meaning that things can get expensive fairly quickly.

We recommend you find a estate planning lawyer that works on a fixed-fee basis, ensuring you’re always aware of the financial expectations. We’ll connect you with estate lawyers that can provide you with a fixed-price quotes at a price that works for you.

 

Book a free consultation with an estate planning lawyer

We understand you’ve got a lot to deal with right now – especially if you’re responsible for managing the affairs of your loved one. When the funeral is over, you may need to apply for the right to deal with your loved one’s estate: their property, money and possessions.

Let us help. We can connect you with probate and estate planning experts to help you organise your estate and create the legal documents to protect you and your loved ones should you fall ill or pass away unexpectedly.

 

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION

 

About eziFunerals

eziFunerals supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not part of any other funeral company.

Our member Funeral Directors are chosen for their knowledge, quality, service, personalisation and experience. They go above and beyond, and will take the time to support the family.

For more information or to make contact with a trusted Independent funeral director, call eziFunerals on 1300 236 402 or visit www.ezifunerals.com.au.