Deceased Estate Administration

If someone you know dies and you have been appointed as the executor under their Will, do you know what your duties and responsibilities are? Should you obtain a Grant of Probate? What risks are there for you if you don’t do that?

Obtaining a Grant of Probate

A Grant of Probate is a document issued by the Queensland Supreme Court that recognises that the Will that has been produced to it has been validly signed by the Willmaker and is legally binding. It also gives an executor the Court’s authority to administer the estate and distribute the Willmaker’s assets in accordance with the Will. By obtaining a Grant of Probate, the executor also has the benefit of statutory protection if anyone claims they haven’t validly distributed the estate.

It will usually be necessary for the executor to produce certified copies of the Grant of Probate to life insurance companies, financial institutions, share and government land registries when dealing with the estate assets or transferring ownership of those assets under the Will. This will satisfy those organisations that the executor has the necessary authority to deal with the estate assets.

While it is possible for an executor to apply for the Grant of Probate themselves, it is usual for the executor to engage a solicitor of their choice to apply for the Grant of Probate because of the complexity of the process and preparation of the documents that need to be lodged with the Court.

If you are unsure of what your responsibilities are in administering a deceased estate that you are the executor of or you believe you are likely to need a Grant of Probate to administer the estate, we can explain what those responsibilities are and help you obtain the Grant of Probate.

What are Letters of Administration?

If someone dies without a Will they are said to have died “intestate”. An administrator will need to be appointed to manage the estate.

Usually a member of the deceased’s family will apply to the court to be appointed as the administrator. If there is no-one suitable, the court can appoint a third party to act as administrator.

The estate assets must be distributed by the administrator in accordance with rules in the Queensland Succession Act.

The document appointing the administrator issued by the Court is called a Grant of Letters of Administration and it gives the administrator the same protection and authority that a Grant of Probate gives an executor who is appointed under a valid Will. Once the Letters of Administration has issued, the administrator will administer the estate in the same way as an executor acting under a Grant of Probate.

If someone close to you has died without a valid Will and you wish to administer their estate, we can advise you if you are entitled to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration and what else you may be required to do to administer the estate.