Complex affairs can add to pain of death
WHEN a loved one dies, the emotional turmoil is often amplified by the legal and financial tasks required to get their affairs in order.
This process, known as administering the deceased’s estate, involves ensuring that all outstanding taxes and debts are paid and that money, property or other assets are distributed to the people entitled to it.
How this process proceeds depends on whether your loved one has left a will.
Where there is a will, it will identify the person responsible for administering the estate, known as the executor.
The executor will need to apply to the NSW Supreme Court for a grant of probate.
Probate is a process that examines whether a will is valid before the deceased’s property can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
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To prepare the application, a range of documents are required. These include the original death certificate and will as well as information about the deceased’s estate, including properties, bank accounts, life insurance policies, share portfolios, other assets and outstanding liabilities.
In granting probate, the Supreme Court recognises the executor’s authority to deal with the estate.
Where your loved one has not left a will, they are said to have died “intestate”.
In those circumstances, a spouse, de facto partner or other direct family members can apply to the Supreme Court to obtain letters of administration and become administrators of the estate.
The property of the de- ceased will need to be distributed in accordance with the Succession Act.
Under this Act, which recognises the increasingly complicated family structures in Australia, people who may be entitled to a share of the deceased property include a spouse, de facto partner, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and other dependants.
Seeking specialist legal assistance to draft a will, or with the process of executing or administering a deceased estate, can help avoid many of the potential pitfalls and ensure the wishes of the deceased are carried out.