What are the most important things to know about Wills and Probate?

The death of a loved one is distressing and painful. After their loss, you may be tasked with managing their finances and distributing their assets. This process of administering an estate is known as Probate. It’s a series of legal processes and enquiries which need to be undertaken within a specific timeframe.

Is there a Will?

A Will is a vital part of distributing a loved one’s estate after their death, but not everyone has one. The first thing you or a solicitor should review is whether or not a Will exists.

If there is no Will, the allocation of their assets and the granting of probate becomes much more complicated. It can be challenging to identify next of kin, especially if there are multiple past relationships. In addition, a missing Will may result in a longer, more expensive probate process.

Is an executor named on the Will?

Every correctly drafted Will should have an executor who manages the distribution of the estate. If the executor is willing to carry out their duties, you can apply for probate.

Different processes are required if it’s not possible for the nominated executor to perform their duties. The options include appointing a new executor by applying for Letters of Administration (LOA), an Affidavit of Executor or a Renunciation of Probate form. Most Wills avoid this by naming backup executors.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate (often referred to as probate) is the critical legal step in which a Will is validated so the executor can start distributing the estate.

What paperwork will need to be completed and how much does it cost?

The paperwork and costs required when obtaining probate vary from case to case. Fees for a Grant of Probate are evaluated based on the estate value. There will also be additional legal fees. At Taylor & Scott, we always establish the estate’s value before providing a fully-itemised cost agreement.

What complications can arise?

Aside from those previously mentioned, other complications can arise, such as having the Will contested. Things become more confusing if multiple people feel entitled to inherit. If there is no executor and more than $50,000 at stake, you’ll have to apply for rights through the Supreme Court of NSW.

How can I make the process smoother?

Enlisting the help of a lawyer who specialises in Wills and estates can speed up the process of managing your loved one’s estate. So never feel embarrassed or disrespectful if you contact a lawyer within a few days of your loved one’s death. It may alleviate a lot of stress and will make the process much smoother.

Taylor & Scott have an experienced team of estate lawyers who can help you navigate the Granting of Probate and distribution of your loved one’s estate so you can concentrate on the grieving process.

To get in touch with one of our experienced estate team members, call 1800 600 664 or contact us here.


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