Deceased Estates Lawyers
Our team provides a holistic service when it comes to estate planning and estate litigation, and this includes support or advice when it comes to deceased estates. Our work with clients often includes assisting with applications for a Grant of Probate, grant of Letters of Administration, and the administration and distribution of an estate. We also work with clients when it comes to mounting a challenge to a Will or an estate and helping them defend their position as a beneficiary if the Will is contested.
How we help with it comes to deceased estates
- Applications for a Grant of Probate
- Grant Letters of Administration
- Resealing foreign grants
- The distribution of an estate
- Advice on taxation obligations and liquidating estates
- Legal obligations and duties of executors and beneficiaries
- Contesting a Will or estate
- Managing and establishing testamentary and Will trusts
- Defending a challenge to a Will or estate
- Special focus on the role of executors to minimise risk
The complex and ever-changing landscape of deceased estates
We are here to help. We can do as much, or as little, of an estate’s administration as an Executor might want.
Most, but not all estates will require a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. A Grant of Probate is where there is a Will. Letters of Administration is where there is no Will or where there is a Will but no Executor. Within the phrase Letters of Administration though are a raft of other subclasses, including where an Executor has lost mental capacity or is outside the Country, or where an urgent grant is needed to deal with a wasting asset – an example is where a business owner dies and his or her business cannot be run without someone legally able to sign the cheques for him to pay the suppliers.
Once a grant is obtained the real work can commence, and we can guide you through it all. Estate administration is something of an art, because people own different assets in different ways and how it is to be dealt with and carved up under a Will (or on intestacy) can be tricky. It is always unique because every person’s assets are unique. Tax issues and timing of sale of assets are all important things to consider, as well as making sure that all the boxes are ticked to ensure that you as an Executor are not held liable for any mistakes or for a beneficiary missing out.
We also act for Executors and Administrators who have to defend such claims made against them and we act for clients who are wishing to mount a challenge if they feel they have been left out or not been left their correct share of the estate.
Sometimes you might be a beneficiary who does not believe the Executor has acted properly, or has abused their position or is not following the Will fully.
We act for beneficiaries who need to make sure the Executor fills their role properly too, and have a raft of strategies we employ to make sure you get the provision you are expecting from a Will. Executors who are slow, or inexperienced can face legal liability for loss suffered by a beneficiary who does not get their full share on time and we can help both sides of the story getting the job done properly.
Being aware of the legal landscape surrounding deceased estates is critical, and having an expert on side is key. It is complex given the ever-changing nature of the law and the growing size and complexity of modern-day estates. Society is also more complex these days with a growing number of blended families, defacto relationships, step children and testamentary trusts needing special consideration and the complexities of today’s business structures, family trusts jointly held assets and mixed asset pools and the sheer size of the wealth housed in many estates – all seeing new precedents and benchmarks being set regularly that redefine the legal landscape.
The role of an Executor is a complex one and requires a great deal of close attention and hard work. We often have Executors delegate all the heavy lifting to us so that they can live their lives in peace and comfort and minimise the risk of angry or bitter beneficiaries who make increasing demands on an executors time. Being an Executor can sometimes be a full time job and is not to be taken lightly as Executors are liable for the estate.
No estate is too large or too small to seek legal advice on how to handle it- when to distribute, when and how to pay creditors, advertise for unknown claims, sell property, engage accountants for tax advice and the thousand other routine tasks that befall an Executor or Administrator. Seeking that advice as early as possible maximises the return to beneficiaries and the harmonious distribution of estates.
Estate disputes and how we can help
Can’t find what you are looking for?
What is the difference between a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration? How do I know which one I need?
When a person dies, it will almost always be necessary to obtain either a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration to deal with their estate. Although they are different things, the ultimate effect of both a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration are the same: they are, in essence, a licence to the executor or administrator to deal with the deceased’s assets on the deceased’s behalf.
The key difference is that a Grant of Probate is what you are seeking where the deceased had a Will, and a Grant of Letters of Administration is sought where there is no valid Will.
The person entitled to obtain a Grant of Probate is the person(s) named as Executors in the Will, while the person with the greatest entitlement to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration where there is no Will is the person who is entitled to the greatest share of the intestate estate.
Preparation of a comprehensive affidavit is essential in these situations, and all the more so where there is no Will in place. The Court’s role is to ensure, as much as is possible, that any Grant they make is to the most appropriate person(s) and in accordance with the genuine last Will and testament of the deceased. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and any mistake or incomplete information will inevitably lead to a requisition from the Court requiring further information or clarification before they will make the relevant Grant – and this can mean delays, and possible extra costs. It really does pay to have an expert assist you in this, to avoid delays and give you the best chance of a speedy Grant to enable you to get on with your important role as executor or administrator.
Book your free 15 min consultation
Discussing your situation over the phone is often the best way to start, and we’re pleased to offer all new and existing clients a free 15 minute phone consultation for every new matter. It’s a great opportunity to let us know more about the assistance you’re looking for, clarify your situation and walk you through how best we can help and what’s involved.