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 representation. 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.
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.
Links to each state and territory’s probate registry follow below.
NSW: Probate Registry, Supreme Court of New South Wales
VIC: Wills and Probate, Supreme Court of Victoria
QLD: Wills and Probate, Supreme Court of Queensland
SA: Wills and Probate, Courts Administration Authority of South Australia
WA: Wills and Probate, Supreme Court of Western Australia
TAS: Probate, Supreme Court of Tasmania
ACT: Probate, ACT Supreme Court
NT: Wills and Probate, Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
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 probate is 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.
Need 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.
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 operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Australia wide. Thet 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.