When a family member passes away, their family may be left with a need to settle unresolved debts as well as distribute estate assets. This can be stressful for the family of the deceased person and more than often, legal advice from a probate lawyer is required. 

The probate lawyers at Owen Hodge are highly experienced in the legal processes of estate administration and advising on executor duties. Should you need their assistance, they are here to help your family settle debts and distribute assets according to the Last Will and Testament of your deceased family member.

So, to better understand probate law and the finer points of executor duties, please read through this FAQ or feel free to contact our experienced probate lawyers for more information.

Probate lawyers: a person holding the hands of their deceased family member

Estate Administration FAQ Answered By Our Sydney Probate Lawyers 

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 listed during estate planning was a bank account, bank rules may allow a small account to be closed without probate. Probate lawyers can help you determine the need for probate.

What is an Executor?

An Executor is a legal term referring to the 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 require 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 probate fees to process the application. The court also regulates what probate 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 for an application 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?

Probate lawyers are not obligatory, however, administration of estates can be quite complex and may require a considerable amount of time 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 advice from an expert lawyer specialising in probate at the earliest opportunity.

Managing Wills, estates and probate are difficult matters, particularly when families are still grieving the loss of their loved one. For this reason, seeking the help of probate lawyers is a wise choice to ensure the smooth and proper management of all debts and assets. Contact the Wills and estates lawyers at Owen Hodge today, and let us help you through this complex process.

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