Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Estates

I have been appointed an executor in a Will – I am not sure what I have to do?

An executor is a person named in a Will to “step into the shoes” of the deceased person. They are nominated to be the person to assume the legal ownership of the deceased’s assets for the purposes of getting them in and distributing them in accordance with the terms of the Will. The executor also takes over the responsibility for dealing with the liabilities of the estate.

It is an important role but it doesn’t need to fill you with anxiety. If the time comes when you need to take up the role or executor, the best thing to do is to contact us and we can guide you through the process and minimise the stress.

What is Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a certificate issued under seal by the Supreme Court of South Australia authenticating the executor’s right to administer the estate.

The Grant gives protection to the executor in certain circumstances but, its most practical application is that it enables you to deal with the various institutions to get in the assets of the estate.

By way of example, if the deceased person owned land, you can easily understand that the Lands Titles Office would need to see something formal to prove your entitlement to have the property transferred into your name. You do that by producing the Grant of Probate.

What are Letters of Administration?

Sadly, some people die without having Wills in place or, alternatively, the Will that they had prepared is ruled invalid for some reason. In that situation, somebody has to take on a similar role to that of executor and they do that by applying for “Letters of Administration”.

Is it always necessary to get Probate or Letters of Administration?

No. Whether it will or will not be necessary is something you will need to get advice on.

However, by way of example, it is commonplace for Probate not to be required when the first of a married couple dies. In many such situations, all their assets are owned jointly and a Grant of Probate is not required to transfer the assets solely into the name of the other person.

However, in the case of jointly held land, an application will need to be made to the Lands Titles Office to transfer the title into one name. We can perform this service for you quickly and inexpensively.

How much does it cost?

The legal costs vary from estate to estate. We are happy to speak to you by telephone to find out some more information about the matter and should then be able to give you some general guide about the likely cost involved in instructing us to act.

Someone close to me has died and I don’t think I have been treated fairly in the Will. What can I do?

Sadly, this situation happens all too often. What you can do about it varies widely from case to case but there are often remedies available. We have wide experience in disputed Will cases and can put you on the right path quickly and cost effectively.

Call us to discuss it or make an appointment for a Free First Interview. Yours might be an appropriate case for a “No Win – No Fee” arrangement.

Learn more about Wills estates powers of attorney and advance care directives

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