One of the most significant moments in a person life is the passing of a loved one, whether that be a family member or a friend. Often assistance is required by a Lawyer to assist parties with applying to the Court - where there is no will, or to apply for Probate when they have been appointed an executor and need to administer the will.
At Esposito Lawyers, we provide a fixed fee price for Applications for Probate and Letters of Administration. Our initial advice will also provide information to assist an executor on what steps need to take to administer the Estate.
Predominantly, following discussions, our clients can if they prefer, self manage the estate. Our advice and instructions are limited to obtaining probate.
When requested, or required, we also provide services to assist Executors in administering the estate. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer the administration of an estate on a fixed fee basis due to the variance and volume of work required.
THE ROLE OF AN EXECUTOR
The role of an executor includes (but, is not limited to) carrying out the following duties:
- arranging the funeral;
- identifying, gathering in and protecting the deceased’s assets;
- applying for probate, if required;
- selling and disposing of estate assets;
- lodging tax returns and obtaining final tax assessments;
- after all assets are gathered in, and all debts paid, distributing to relevant beneficiaries; and
- defending any claim brought against the estate.
Probate is the process of proving and registering the last Will of a deceased person. When a person dies, somebody has to deal with their estate, which is usually an appointed executor in their will. Sometimes, Executors do not wish to act as Executors, and others apply to become the executor.
It is usually the Executor of the Will who administers the estate and handles the disposal of their assets and debts. In order to obtain the authority to do this, they usually need to obtain a legal document called a 'Grant of Probate'. The process of Probate is as provided for in the Legislation.
There are required steps that must be carried out and obligations on the Executor(s) in regards to the Estate, prior to, and after Probate is granted. Often parties require assistance with Probate and the documents for the Court. In addition to Court documents, there are requirements for advertising.
If you are not sure if Probate is required for an estate or have questions about Probate, such as, when you should apply, the length of time Probate takes etc, please call our office to discuss.
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
Where a person passes without a will, there is no executor. It is generally the case that the next of kin, such as a spouse takes the role of administering the estate by applying for letters of administration. There is a priority list, which is;
- Grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
- Parent or parents.
- Brothers or sisters.
- Nieces or nephews.
- Grandparent or grandparents.
- Uncles or aunts.
- First cousins.
- If there is no surviving family from the above categories, then any other person may seek to apply to the Court.
Generally, the person with the highest priority makes the Application. In some cases, this may be a joint application. Advertising requirements must be followed, in addition to Court documents being drafted and filed in the Court.
When a person passes leaving real property, (land or anything attached to it or personal property of any kind), that property must be distributed. Intestacy occurs when either the whole or part of the deceased’s estate is not disposed of by a will. Total intestacy occurs when the deceased has failed to make a will at all, failed to make a valid will or made a valid will, but all the beneficiaries have since died. Partial intestacy occurs when a deceased person has made a valid will, but the terms of the will do not dispose of the whole of the estate.
Sometimes, Letters of Administration are also applied for and granted in other circumstances, such as; where there is a will, but the Executors are not willing or able to act, where the will is found to be invalid or where there is partial intestacy.
We provide fixed fee services for Application for Probate and Letter of Administration. Following an initial consultation, our Fixed Fee service is detailed to you in a Disclosure Notice and Cost Agreement, setting out our fixed fee professional fees and the disbursements including; professional legal fees, advertising, filing fee and searches required to be performed for your matter.
We are, however, unable to offer fixed fee on Probate administration or estate litigation matters, due to the uncertainty involved in the litigation or for the estate administration. Administration of estate matters are charged as per the traditional method of six (6) minute increments at the rate of $385.00 (inc GST) per hour.
Contact us for an appointment.