Deceased Estates

The death of a loved one is an emotional and stressful time. Berryman Partners is here to assist in every step of the deceased estate administration process.

The administration of a deceased estate is a complex process, which coincides with an emotional time. Often someone appoints a friend or relative as their executor, but these duties can be quite complicated and many people nominated are unsure of what is expected of them.

Our experienced solicitors can guide you through the administration process and take the stress out of the legal requirements. We can help you to interpret the wishes of the deceased and ensure that the estate is distributed in a fair manner. If you are a beneficiary of a Will and believe there may be an issue with the Will, visit out of Will Disputes and Estate Claims page for more information.

The executor of an estate is entrusted with certain responsibilities and the law requires that these be performed in a specific way.

The responsibilities of an executor may include:

  • Funeral arrangements
  • Locating the Will of the deceased
  • Determining, collecting and distributing assets involved in the estate
  • Determining whether a grant of probate is required
  • Confirming the beneficiaries of the estate
  • Assessing any potential claims and identifying and payments the debts of the deceased
  • Preparing and lodging tax returns

Many of the executors tasks should be performed with the assistance of a solicitor, as there are strict legal requirements that accompany these responsibilities. These include the order in which debts of the estate are to be discharged and the amount of time that must be waited before the assets are distributed. Our experienced solicitors can guide you through the administration and assist you in negotiating disputes if they arise. There are also certain rights that executors are entitled to and we can help protect them.

Probate is the process by which the Court determines the validity of a Will and grants authority to executor to administer the deceased’s estate. There is no legal requirement to seek probate, but there is a legal requirement to seek probate where real estate is required to be sold. However, a bank will usually require a grant of probate before releasing the funds from a deceased’s bank account. A grant of probate can only be issued by the Supreme Court. Once probate is obtained, the actions of the executor cannot be challenged.

Where there is no Will or there is a problem with the Will

Where the deceased has not left a WIll there is a legal formula which is applied to determine who shares in the estate of the deceased:

  1. The deceased’s spouse (including de facto partner) will take the whole of the estate where there are no children
  2. Where the deceased has children of a former relationship, the estate is shared between the current spouse and the children
  3. Where there is no spouse, the estate is divested to the deceased’s children or surviving next of kin
  4. Where there are no surviving next of kin, the estate is divested to the State

There also may be problems with the Will or situations where the Will may become invalid. If you’re a beneficiary and believe there may be a problem with the validity of the Will, you should seek the advice of a solicitor.

We are here to help you! Contact us now.