Navigating a complex legal process when a friend or loved one passes away can feel overwhelming. Not only are you grieving for the loss of someone you love, but you have the added task of honouring their wishes.
We have put together a quick guide to help with managing the estate of a deceased loved one or friend in Queensland.
Where to start
The first step is to confirm whether or not the person has a Will. The legal process you will need to navigate will be vastly different if they do versus if they do not.
If there is no Will
Passing away without a Will is referred to as *dying intestate*. Because there is no Will, there are no formal instructions to determine what will happen to the estate and no appointed executor to oversee this process.
In Queensland, the first step to take when dealing with an intestate estate is to submit an application to the Supreme Court of Queensland to appoint a person to act as the Administrator of the estate. This is called an application for Letters of Administration. Typically, the person who has the largest entitlement to the estate applies for this and this is determined by applying the rules of intestacy. For example, a spouse followed by children, parents, siblings and nieces/nephews, grandparents, and then uncles, aunts and cousins.
Once appointed, the Administrator duties can include collecting assets, paying debts, finalising tax affairs and distributing assets in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
If there is a Will
If you have been named executor of a Will, you are responsible for the estate and any final wishes.
Firstly, you are not legally obligated to accept the appointment of executor. In the event you wish to renounce your duty, you need to take legal steps through the Supreme Court of Queensland. If you are the only executor of the estate, then it is important to find someone to replace you. This could be a beneficiary of the estate or the Public Trustee. It’s important to note that the Public Trustee will charge a fee to administer the estate.
If you have been appointed executor and are willing to undertake the role, you will need to apply for probate through the Supreme Court of Queensland. A Grant of Probate recognises that you are authorised to deal with the estate and this is often required before you can take control of the estate’s assets.
As executor, your main duties will include:
Protecting and checking assets, and confirming they are insured.
Collecting income and valuables.
Determining debts and liabilities.
Preparing financial statements.
Managing tax affairs.
Transferring/ sale of assets.
Finding and notifying beneficiaries.
Distributing the estate.
Administering an estate of a loved one or friend can feel overwhelming. However, it doesn’t need to be. A lawyer can help alleviate the pressure and assist with handling sensitive matters impartially and professionally.
Whether you need help administering the entire estate or legal guidance navigating a few matters – we can help. Get in touch with our team today for a confidential discussion.