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Executor Duties & Probate – FAQs

Sydney Probate & Executor Duties FAQ

What is probate?

Probate is the process by which there is confirmation that a will has been validly made and approved by the Supreme Court.

Who needs to apply for probate?

A grant of probate gives the Executor/s the authority to deal with the assets of the estate. In some small estates, it may not be necessary to obtain probate. If the only asset is a bank account, bank rules may allow a small account to be closed without probate.

What is an Executor?

An Executor is a legal term referring to a person named by a maker of a will, or nominated by the testator, to carry out the directions of the will. Typically, the executor is the person responsible for offering the will for probate, although it is not absolutely required that he or she do so.

Do I need to get probate if I own my assets jointly with my spouse?

If a person’s assets are all jointly owned no grant of probate is required.

How long does probate take?

The process of obtaining a grant of probate should be concluded within 8 to 12 weeks of the date of death.

What are the fees involved in obtaining probate?

The Supreme Court charges fees to process the application. The court also regulates what lawyers may charge for the legal work, based on the size of the estate.

Why do I need a Death Certificate?

An original death certificate is required to apply for probate and to allow for the administration of the estate.

Can I access the deceased’s bank account?

Most banks will give an executor immediate access to bank accounts of less than $5000. Bank accounts in joint names should not be affected at all by the death of one joint owner.

I am the Executor of an estate. Do I need a lawyer to act for the estate?

You do not need a lawyer, however, administering of estates can be quite complex and may require a considerable amount of time necessary to undertake all the tasks that are required. There are legal requirements that must be satisfied to comply with the law and if you are an Executor it is probably wise to at least gain some initial legal advise at the earliest opportunity.