Probate Lawyers

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Probate Lawyers

What happens after someone close to you dies?

Step Solicitors will always be here for you.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a distressing time that is often compounded by the pressure of trying to fulfil your legal duties in seeking probate as executor. Alternatively, you might be uncertain actually who is the executor named in the deceased’s will.

Let Step Solicitors help you navigate the legal minefield in obtaining probate. We can act on your behalf contacting and notifying banks, building societies, credit unions and insurance companies of the date of death and requesting full details of all accounts, shares and policies. We can take carriage of the application to the Supreme Court for a grant of probate, which is an order declaring the will valid and that the executor has the lawful right to administer the estate. We will ensure that the required probate notifications are published in the local newspaper.

We will prepare all required probate documents including executor’s affidavit, inventory of assets and summons for probate. Once the grant of probate has been obtained from the Supreme Court, we will make the necessary arrangements for advertisement in the local newspaper regarding distribution of the estate. If necessary, we will prepare a transmission application or notice of death and lodge the same at the Land and Property Information (LPI) along with the title deed to transfer real property from the deceased’s name.

Once the estate debts have been acquitted, we reimburse the executors for any personal expenses that have been incurred in administering the estate before attending to the final distribution of funds in accordance with the will, including payment of our professional costs out of the estate. A letter will be sent to each of the beneficiaries under the will requesting them to attend our office to receive their distribution cheque or, alternatively, we can deposit the funds directly in a nominated bank account.

Acting as Executor in a deceased estate.

There are established legal processes in place when a person dies, so that his or her estate can be distributed and administered in accordance with the deceased person’s wishes and the law. If you are an executor or potential beneficiary of the estate, it is vitally important that you obtain the services of an experienced probate solicitor to assist you.

As an executor or trustee of a deceased estate, you have the highest legal obligations that apply to the way you perform that role. You must ensure that the beneficiaries of the estate receive distributions and benefits of the estate in a lawful and transparent manner. Step Solicitors have a wealth of experience in probate matters and can give you sound advice on obtaining a grant of probate in a timely and efficient way.

If the deceased person dies with a Will, it is usually necessary to obtain a grant of probate of the will from the Supreme Court so that the executor of the will can deal with the assets and liabilities of the estate.

What is a “Grant of Probate”?

That is a good question.

When the Supreme Court issues a grant of probate, the executor has the legal authority based on a valid will and he or she may administer the estate according to probate law and distribute assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Complexities can arise with all of the above processes. The Probate Lawyer team at Step Solicitors will assist you with any difficulties that arise.

Obtaining the “Grant of Probate”.

If a person has a valid legal Will when they die, the Supreme Court of NSW will generally grant Probate to the person’s executor to manage his or her estate. Step Solicitors can assist with the various steps that are usually sought by those close to the deceased person including:

  • Preparing the background information and original documents required for an application to the Court;
  • Gaining access to bank accounts and superannuation funds;
  • Transferring real estate and other assets; and
  • Pursuing claims and receiving compensation on behalf of the deceased person.

What happens if someone dies without having a valid Will?

If a person dies without a valid Will then the person is deemed to have died intestate and an application must be made to the Court for a grant of “Letters of Administration”.

In intestacy matters, there are established laws that determine who will receive the estate and in what proportions. An appropriate person must apply for letters of administration from the Supreme Court, which will allow the assets and liabilities of the estate to be dealt with. In the absence of a Legal Will, this process can be challenging and we strongly recommend that you obtain advice from a probate lawyers before you embark on the process.

In some circumstances, an existing Will might have a clause in it which is no longer valid under the law, but the rest of the Will is acceptable (an example of this is if the named executor(s) have died or can no longer act in that role).  In this type of circumstance, a grant of Letters of Administration will rectify the problem with the Will being annexed and the Administrator bound to follow the otherwise intestate’s wishes. This is known as a Grant of Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed (CTA). CTA being an abbreviation for the latin words “cum testamento annexo”.  There are other types of Letters of Administration, and they give the administrator different types of powers and responsibility.  This is why you want an experienced solicitor to handle the Grants process.

Once Letters of Administration are granted by the Court the person who made the application, known as an administrator, is authorised to administer the deceased’s estate and distribute assets.

Our solicitors have experience with wills, probate and estate litigation and are available to help you assess the key issues and inform you of the various legal options available to you.

Is it always necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

It is usually, but not always necessary to obtain a grant of probate or letters of administration.  Issues that are relevant to whether a grant is necessary include but are not limited to:

  • The type of property owned by the deceased, how it was held, whether it was encumbered;
  • The value of the property;
  • The location of the property;
  • Institutional requirements for a grant – these can vary markedly between the various banks and superannuation funds and other relevant entities; and
  • Creditors of the deceased and whether the deceased was entitled to moneys in some other way.

The circumstances vary for each estate. Bearing in mind the legal obligations of executors, you should seek legal advice from an experienced probate lawyer about your situation before deciding whether it is necessary to obtain a grant.

Who is responsible for the legal costs?

An executor can generally have the legal costs of probate or letters of administration paid from the assets of the estate. Our probate lawyers are available to discuss your circumstances and assist you with managing any costs that apply.

Helping you navigate the legal system

Step Solicitors probate lawyers can assist you in any legal matter, including the following:

  • Advice and representation for executors;
  • Application for grant of probate;
  • Application for Executor’s commission;
  • Family provision claims;
  • Contested wills;
  • Deceased estates;
  • Will drafting and execution;
  • Estate planning;
  • Challenging a will;
  • Testamentary capacity; and
  • Undue influence.

For advice concerning Wills and Probabte, please contact Step Solicitors on 1300 651 193.

The information on this page does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of seeking professional advice on the specifics of your individual matter.