The estate of a person who dies must be dealt with and distributed in accordance with the Will, or if there is no Will, in accordance with the applicable law. Below are a series of articles on specific estate situations. Atkinson Vinden can assist in all of these situations.
Meet The Team:
Licensed Conveyancer, Estate Clerk
Where There is a Will
When a person leaves a Will it is usually necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate. This is done by filing an application with the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court together with an affidavit by the executors setting out details, including details of the liabilities and assets of the deceased and the beneficiaries under the Will.
The Grant of Probate gives the executors authority to deal with the assets of the deceased.
Where There is no Will
Where there is no Will, generally it will be necessary for a person (usually the next of kin or a close relative, or another beneficiary) to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Court. The process for this is similar to that of obtaining a Grant of Probate, although sometimes slightly more complex.
Administration of Estate
After obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, the executors or administrators (referred to as the legal personal representatives) must ensure that the financial affairs of the deceased are finalised and the estate distributed. This will involve ensuring that any outstanding income tax returns are lodged and tax paid, all liabilities paid, collecting assets and either distributing the assets, or realising the assets and distributing the proceeds, in accordance with the Will, or to those entitled by law where there is no Will (that is on intestacy).
A Grant of Probate or Administration is Not Always Necessary
If all the assets of the deceased are owned jointly with another person (for example, with the spouse of the deceased) or there is no real estate owned, and the value of assets other than jointly owned assets is very low, it might not be necessary to obtain a grant.
At Atkinson Vinden we will assist in the application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in an estate where this is necessary, and in the administration of a deceased estate.
Claims and Disputes
Sometimes there are claims made against a deceased estate by persons who consider they have not received proper provision from it. Sometimes there are disputes with beneficiaries and sometimes even disputes between executors appointed by a Will. We can assist in resolving these disputes.
If it is believed that a Will has been made by a deceased person, a search should be made. If it cannot be found, but a copy is found, then it is sometimes possible to obtain a grant on the basis of the copy. In some circumstances it is possible to reconstruct the terms of a lost Will from available information and evidence and to obtain a grant in respect of that reconstructed Will.