Deceased Estates & Will Disputes
Have you been chosen by a family member or friend to be the Executor of their Will? This means that you have been given responsibility to manage their estate according to the terms they’ve outlined in their Will and to protect their assets under the various laws and rules that govern estate administration in Australia.
At Law Results we understand that dealing with a deceased estate is one of the more difficult challenges in life. From mountains of paper work to legal jargon and simmering family disputes, they’re the last things you want to deal with when you’re grieving the loss of someone important in your life. We can help you with these and many other issues which arise at this time.
An executor’s duties may include responsibilities such as:
- Organising the funeral, notices for the paper
- Locating the Will
- Obtaining the Death Certificate
- Making sure any property and assets are safe and secure
- Determining the value of assets
- Applying for Probate or Letter of Administration
- Paying insurance policies, debts and taxes
- Collecting monies belonging to the deceased from financial institutions and insurance companies
- Collecting debts owed to the deceased
- Lodging tax returns for the deceased and for the estate
- Selling properties and assets
- Reporting to beneficiaries
- Distributing the proceeds of the estate to beneficiaries
- Setting up trusts
Being an Executor can be overwhelming, particularly when you are grieving, but rest assured we can guide you through.
Do Executors get paid?
It depends. If you are a beneficiary of the will it is presumed that your benefit will cover your costs. However you can apply to the Supreme Court for commission. If you’re not a beneficiary then you also can apply to the Supreme Court for commission.
Do I need a Lawyer?
Estates vary in complexity and Executor’s duties can be complicated, so it may be a good idea to get advice from a lawyer. The cost of legal advice is usually covered by the estate, not the Executors.
What is Probate?
Probate is recognition of the Will’s validity and permission from the Supreme Court for the Executors named in the Will of the deceased to carry out their duties in relation to the Estate. You will likely need a Grant of Probate to deal
Obtaining Probate provides assurance to others that you have the true last Will of the deceased and that you are the authorised Executor/s (declared by the Grant of Probate). As an overview completing a Probate Qld Application involves:
- Placing Notice of Intention to Apply For Grant (“Notice”) in the Queensland Law Reporter and any other notice the Court or Registrar considers appropriate
- Providing Written Notice to the Public Trustee of Queensland
- Evidencing Regulatory Compliance
- Preparing Court Application, Affidavits, Certificates of Exhibits, Will and Death Certificate, etc
- File the Court Application in the Supreme Court Registry; and
- Answering any queries or concerns the Registrar may have regarding the Application
If you have a Will and the Executor named in the Will is able and willing to act then you may require a Grant of Probate and not Letters of Administration.
What if there is no Will?
This situation is referred to as intestacy and the law determines how assets will be shared out after debts have been paid. If you are the next of kin you can apply for Letters of Administration, which will give you authority to finalise the estate.
Letters of Administration, also known as a Grant of Letters of Administration, is an official document issued by the Supreme Court of Queensland which declares the name of the person who has the formal authority to handle the financial matters of a deceased person.
There are two common situations where Letters of Administration are applied for:
- When someone dies without having a last Will and Testament; or
- Where there is a Will but the Executor appointed in the Will cannot act and no one else is mentioned in the Will as the backup Executor.
What if I’m not up to the job?
Just because you have been named an Executor doesn’t mean you have to accept the responsibility. If there is another Executor named, they can take on the whole of the job, or if you are the sole executor you can apply to the court to appoint someone else. You cannot change your mind later though – giving up the responsibility is final.
Will disputes: Family Provision claims explained
Have you been left out of a Will, or didn’t receive what you thought you were entitled to? Are you attempting to protect your entitlement?
The law surrounding Will disputes is often complex, with exceptions to almost every rule and no two cases the same.
Our team will listen to your unique circumstances and tailor advice specifically to gain or protect your entitlement.
Contesting a Will/Family Provision Application
There are very strict time limits that apply to this area of law, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
We understand losing a family member is difficult and contesting a will is an emotional process. We want to help you achieve a successful outcome, while reducing the worry and stress for you. We are here to help by providing a considerate, fair and professional service.
Defending a Will
There are many ways in which an executor or administrator may find themselves defending an estate.
The validity of the deceased’s will may be challenged for a variety of reasons, a claim may be made under family provision legislation or there may be a dispute over the administration of the estate.
The process and law that applies to defending a will varies greatly depending upon the state where the deceased person lived.
We accommodate Executors/Administrators who wish to attend to the estate administration themselves but it is necessary to obtain a-
- Grant of Probate in Queensland (is a will); or
- Letters of Administration (no will)
Fixed Fees Available
For attending to documents only and filing a *Standard Probate Application (subject to our review) our fees start at:
- *$1,850 excluding disbursements** (outlined below)
For attending to documents only and filing *Standard Letters of Administration Application(subject to our review) our fees start at:
- for applicants of a late child or partner a reduced fixed legal fee of *$1,850 (starting from) excluding disbursements **(outlined below); or
- for applicants of a late parent or otherwise *$2,050 (starting from) excluding disbursements** (outlined below) to address additional legislative procedure
You should be aware that Transfer of Property incurs extra professional costs
- Supreme Court filing fee – $682.80 (subject to change), Government Concession Card Holders may be eligible for a Reduced Filing Fee – $124.50
- Advertising (Queensland Law Reporter) – Approximately $200.00
PLEASE NOTE: The above indication of costs are correct as at November 2020 and are subject to change at any time.
Deferred fees available
Deferred fees are fees that are charged, but payment is deferred until the conclusion of the matter.
In deceased estate matters a deferred fee is often used as the executor and beneficiaries under the will might not have the funds to pay as they go. The legal fees are paid when the estate is finalised, or in the event that estate assets are converted to cash.
The downside of the deferred fee arrangement is that higher document preparation costs and hourly rate is charged, as the firm ordinarily has to wait months, if not years, to get paid for the work that it is doing.
If you are on a deferred fee retainer you will still be required to pay any of the upfront costs such as Court filing fees, advertising and property valuation fees.
So, let us help you by:
- Interpreting the Will of the deceased in terms of estate laws
- Advising executors and trustees in regard to their duties and rights
- Informing government bodies including Centrelink and Veterans Affairs
- Applying for Probate of the Will in the Supreme Court
- Dealing with intestacy (where there is no Will)
- Applying for Letters of Administration (if the Will is deemed invalid or is absent)
- Identifying estate assets and liabilities
- Obtaining valuations of estate property
- Collecting estate financial assets including superannuation, bank funds, shares, outstanding loans, and insurance payouts
- Selling or transferring estate property including estate auctions
- Paying estate debts including mortgages, funeral costs, and testamentary expenses
- Advising in regard to family and testamentary trusts
- Administering trust funds
- Distributing bequests and inheritances to beneficiaries
- Organising information for estate tax returns
- Family mediation and negotiation
- Contesting wills and defending estate litigation in the Supreme Court
Contact Us to find out more or to arrange an appointment.
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