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. Many people nominated are unsure of what is expected of them, including whether they will be required to obtain a grant of Probate to deal with the estate.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process by which the Court determines the validity of a Will. The executor/s are responsible for making an application for Probate to the Supreme Court and then carrying out the estate administration in accordance with the Will after Probate is granted. The Probate Application itself requires the executor to complete a number of court documents providing details about the estate including the assets, liabilities and details about the beneficiaries. There are strict requirements for the information to be included in court documents and we can assist executors with preparing and submitting the application.
When must a grant of Probate be obtained?
There is no legal requirement to seek probate, however if the deceased held assets in their sole name over a certain value, the executor will likely be required to apply for a grant of probate.
There is a legal requirement to seek probate where real estate is required to be sold, regardless of its value.
Banks usually require a grant of Probate before releasing funds over a certain value from a deceased’s bank account. This amount varies bank by bank, and the threshold can be as little as $15,000. Most banks will require Probate only after the account balances exceed an amount of around $50,000.
If the deceased held shares over a particular value, then the share registry that holds the share are also likely to require a grant of Probate before the shares may be transferred to beneficiaries or sold.
How long will it take?
It usually takes a few weeks to obtain all the information required to prepare the application for Probate itself. Once the application is submitted to the Supreme Court, and if all the documents are completely correct, it can take up to 20 business days for the Supreme Court to issue the grant. The process will take longer if the court documents are incomplete or incorrect. All up, we generally advise clients that the Probate process may take anywhere between 3-6 months, depending on the complexity of the estate.