Com­plex af­fairs can add to pain of death

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - All copy pro­vided by Turner Free­man lawyers; turn­er­free­

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.

Send your le­gal ques­tions to legal­help@turn­er­free­

Tune in to the Chris Smith Af­ter­noon Show on 2GB on Tues­days from 1.30pm where a spe­cial­ist lawyer will be avail­able to take your calls.

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.

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