Death is the only certainty we have in life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. The administration can be a complicated process, depending on how well an estate is organised, and how much planning the deceased did before their death.
Deceased estate administration occurs when someone passes away and it allows a family member, trusted friend or a legal representative to deal with the assets of the estate. The person in charge of handling deceased estate administration is known as an executor. Here’s what you need to know.
What is an Executor, and What Are Their Duties?
The executor is appointed by the Will prepared by the deceased. If there is no Will, an executor will be appointed by an administrator. The executor’s first task is to apply for a Grant of Probate. Grant of Probate is the Court officially recognising the deceased’s Will as legally valid. It is vital to the administration process because the executor must achieve this before they are legally authorised to move forward with dealing with the estate.
While most people choose a relative or friend to fill the role of executor, most people do not know what is expected of them because the role is a complex one. The process can be long, and it’s particularly difficult if the executor is also grieving while trying to handle a deceased estate administration.
On the administration front, an executor must locate the Will, though this is generally with the deceased estate lawyers. They are also generally responsible for planning the funeral, updating beneficiaries, and notifying the relevant institutions and agencies. They are also required to prepare the documents to receive the Grant of Probate. They are then charged with distributing the estate according to the Will. This first requires expenses and liabilities to be paid before the rest can be dealt with. This means the executor needs to find out about all debts and assets, create an inventory of effects, property, cash, and prepare account and tax information. Additionally, if there is a Will dispute claim the executor must represent the estate.
Who Is in Charge of Estate Administration if There Was No Will?
If there is no Will, someone will need to act as the administrator and pursue the Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Who can take this action? Generally, it’s next-of-kin, whether it’s a spouse or child. Grant of Letters of Administration provides essentially the same ability as Grant of Probate.
If the administrator cannot find someone able or willing to take on the role of executor, a Public Trustee may be installed to do so. In the event of there being no Will in place, the Rules of Intestacy take precedence, and your estate will go to your spouse or de facto partner. If you do not have a spouse or de facto partner at the time of your death, the estate will be equally divided by any children you have. If this is not relevant to you, your siblings or parents may stand to inherit your estate.
What Happens if a Family Member Wants to Contest the Will or Contest Without a Will?
There are laws in place to protect a deceased estate and ensure their assets are distributed appropriately. If you are classed as an eligible person, you should receive your share, whether your loved one has died without a Will or you feel the Will has not factored your share fairly. You may also want to contest the validity of a Will or the executor’s handling of the Will.
There are time limits, and not everyone is eligible to contest a Will which is why it’s vital you seek legal advice at the earliest possible date. You can contest a Will if you are an eligible person and haven’t been adequately provided for; you have evidence that the deceased made the Will when they were not of sound mind or were being unduly pressured. You can also contest a Will if the deceased promised you something in exchange for certain behaviour, and the Will did not uphold this despite you fulfilling your end of the bargain.
How AJB Stevens Can Help
If you believe you have been unfairly left out of a loved one’s Will, you can raise a Will dispute. However, before you set about challenging a Will you should enlist the services of Will and Estate Lawyers who can guide you through the legal process of contesting a Will. You are far more likely to be successful in your Will estate dispute if you secure the services of Estate Litigation Lawyers at the earliest possible date.
Whether the situation is settled in or out of court, AJB Stevens can be your guide and protect your best interests. AJB Stevens are experts when it comes to Will and Estate law, and we can help you determine whether you have a legal right to contest a Will. It’s a complex process, and the legalities are complicated, which is why it’s important you have professionals fighting in your corner from the beginning.