Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies and usually involves several steps. Generally the executor of an estate (the person nominated in a person’s Will who administers the terms of the Will) will apply for probate and will oversee the distribution of the estate according to the Will. However, if there is no Will a court appointed representative can apply for Letters of Administration. The process involves a Supreme Court application and the subsequent processes that are required by law in order to commence and carry out the distribution of a deceased estate. Though state laws vary, probate typically includes:

• Identifying and making an inventory of the deceased person’s property.

• Accounting and appraisal of the property.

• Payment of taxes and creditors.

There is no statutory requirement to obtain a grant of probate. If it is required, probate should be obtained in order to ensure that you have the authority to deal with companies where you will need to release assets. Many organisations require that probate has been granted before they will release assets, particularly financial institutions and superannuation funds. Nevertheless, modest amounts (usually less than $50,000) may be released without the need for probate to be obtained. Probate is also beneficial as it can remove liability for handing assets to the wrong person.

A probate grants title of the deceased’s property to the executor or administrator and thereby provides him or her with authority to deal with the assets and liabilities of the estate.

Usually the process will involve the deceased person leaving behind a valid Will which nominates an executor who is capable and in the right position to carry out the required duties. However, this is not always the case. For example, if there is no Will or the executor is unable to act, then other Supreme Court applications can be commenced. These are often similar to the probate process, although they are generally more complex.

When applying for probate it is a good idea to know where, or be in possession of, the following documents:

• Original Death Certificate

• Birth Certificate

• Marriage Certificate

• Original Will

• Bank Account and Credit Card Details

• Details of the deceased’s assets

• Details of the deceased’s liabilities

• Centrelink ID numbers

• ATO tax file number

• Council Rates notice for the properties owned

Here at The Quinn Group we can assist you with Grants of Probate or any other Wills & Estates matter. Our experienced team of lawyers can help you apply for probate and much more. For more information please submit an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange an appointment.