If a person dies without leaving a Will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’. It is often the person’s next of kin who will apply for Letters of Administration, which enables them to manage the estate of the deceased. Typically, this is the domestic partner, children or parents.
A Letter of Administration is also necessary if a Will is deemed to be invalid. The Supreme Court will issue a Letter of Administration in the name of the person who applies. This authorises that person to distribute the assets.
To apply for Letters of Administration, you must be the deceased’s closest of kin. The Supreme Court of Victoria lists the following in order of priority:
- Spouse or domestic partner
- Children (excluding step children)
- Brothers or sisters
- Remoter next of kin
Typically, an administrator will perform the following duties:
- Identifying all assets and liabilities
- Arranging funeral services
- Notifying the relevant authorities
- Obtaining a Grant for Probate
- Paying outstanding debts
- Arranging tax returns
- Claiming life insurance
- Identifying beneficiaries
- Distributing the estate in accordance with Will
- Resolving disputes
Whilst many applications are straightforward, other estates require further attention. This is often due to the amount of detail in a Will. For example, an estate may become complicated if the deceased had established a testamentary trust. In these circumstances, we will assess the complexity of the estate and advise you of the costs associated before we proceed.
1. Death certificate
You will need to provide us with the death certificate as a certified copy must be filed with the application for a Grant.
2. Assets and Liabilities
The court requires an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. You will need to gather as much information of the following information as possible:
- Bank statements
- Utility bills
- Assets owned such as real property, cars, jewellery and other valuables
- Superannuation statements
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns
3. Notify Authorities
Once we obtain all documentation relating to assets and liabilities, we will notify the relevant authorities of the person’s passing. We will also direct any future correspondence to our office.
Prior to filing an application with the court, we will publish a notice of intended application on the Probate Online Advertising System. The advertisement serves as a notice that an application for Probate is to be made after the expiration of 14 days.
Although advertisements do not expire, we recommend applying for a Grant within 6 months of the publication date.
An application for a Grant must include an administrator affidavit. The administrator must take an oath or affirmation before signing this document. This will confirm that no Will was left by the deceased. The affidavit also identifies any assets and liabilities outstanding at the time of death.
Once all forms are complete and signed, we will file your application with the Probate Office. This carries a filing fee of $320.00.
The complexity of the estate will determine how quickly a Grant is issued. It is not uncommon for the process to take several months. Once we file your application with the Supreme Court, you will have a decision within 10 days.
If the court issues a Grant, the administrator can proceed with collecting assets. The administrator should pay all liabilities before distributing the estate to beneficiaries.
On occasion, the Supreme Court Registry may request further documentation or information before issuing a Grant. These are known as requisitions, which indicate that your application is in some way unsatisfactory. You may need to re-submit an affidavit addressing the Registrar’s queries or re-advertise, for example. The court will not issue a Grant until we resolve each requisition.