When a loved one dies, there are so many more important things to focus on than tackling the paperwork and other administrative tasks required to settle the deceased’s legal affairs. Sadly, however, the task of administering the estate must be done sooner or later.
Let’s face it – this “death admin” task can be overwhelming. Knowing how, when and where to start can be confusing and then there’s all the paperwork!
Many everyday Australians die without having made a will, let alone having considered what should happen to assets that may not necessarily be covered by their will. Even where a will has been made, it might be open to attack for a number of reasons. The willmaker’s capacity might be questioned or unhappy family members might make claims for further provision.
And whether the will is up to date, out of date, informal or non-existent, there’s always administrative work to be done. Save for the simplest, most modest estates, at the very least an application must be made to a court to confirm who is legally responsible for administering the estate.
If there is a will, usually a probate application will be made. If there isn’t a will, the application will be for “Letters of Administration on Intestacy”. Sometimes a document, note or recording that isn’t a typical, formal will might need to be submitted to the court. Believe it or not an unsigned electronic document found on a computer, a note on an iPad, an unsent text found on a phone near a man who took his own life, and a tape or video recording of last wishes, have all been recognised as informal wills in Queensland.
Figuring out the type of application to make can be complex, but it must be done before any steps can be taken to finalise the legal affairs of your loved one and to distribute any assets (or deal with liabilities).
Resolve Estate Law specialises in Estate Administration services. There is free checklists and eBook resources for executors and administrators, setting out those roles and responsibilities and simplifying the steps to be taken. To download a copy of our eBook I am named Executor, Now What? or our Executor’s Checklist, visit resolveestatelaw.com.au/resources. We can advise you on what type of court application you need to make and we offer some fixed fees. You can also ask Zinta Harris to take on the role as independent administrator. Zinta Harris is an Accredited Specialist in Succession Law and Business Law (Qld) and owner of Resolve Estate Law. Call 3371 0795 or visit resolveestatelaw.com.au.