Probate & Administration
At Cyngler Kaye Levy Lawyers our senior Probate Lawyers have over 25 years’ experience in Estate Planning & Probate law.
When a loved one dies, whilst it is time to reflect on the person’s life, it is also a busy time for the executor to finalise the loved one’s affairs.
For most people applying for probate can be a complex and daunting process. At Cyngler Kaye Levy Lawyers we can assist and advise you at every step of the process to make the journey as smooth as possible.
If you find that you become embroiled in a dispute with other family members or friends about your loved one’s estate, the support of an experienced and caring Estate Lawyer can be the difference between feeling confused and alone, and having the confidence to assertively administer the estate.
The difference between when your loved one dies with a Will or without a Will is briefly outlined below.
Probate (with a Will)
When a person dies with a Will, the executor needs to determine the assets and liabilities of the deceased and engage a lawyer to draw up an application to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Probate.
Once the Grant is approved, a number of steps need to be taken:-
- Cash out bank accounts and Superannuation policies;
- Transfer or sell property, shares and other assets;
- Chase claims and receive compensation on behalf of the deceased;
- Pay the deceased’s liabilities including liaising with the Accountant to organize a final tax return;
- Inform potential Beneficiaries of the deceased estate and seek their approval before any assets can be distributed;
- Transfer non liquid assets and distribute the liquid assets of the estate according to the Will.
Administration (without a Will)
When a person dies without leaving a Will, an Administrator is appointed and makes an Application to the Supreme Court. This then allows the Administrator to gain access to the assets, collect them, and them distribute according to Statute.
All estates are subject to claims by potential beneficiaries not named in a Will or not included in an Administration. These Contested Will claims are known as Testator Family Maintenance Claims (TFM Claims) or Part IV Claims. An application may need to be made to the courts under the Testator Family Maintenance provisions / Part IV of the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic). See our section on Contested Wills for more details.
Whether you are applying as Executor for Probate, or as Administrator for Letters of Administration, our experienced senior Probate Lawyers are able to assist you from initial advice to full distribution of the estate.
Q: I didn’t want to be the Executor of my Dad’s Will.
My dad made me the Executor of his Will even though I didn’t want the responsibility. Now that he has passed away I have to do probate and I don’t know how to. Where can I get help?
At Cyngler Kaye Levy Lawyers we can help you at every stage of the Probate from initial application, to collecting the assets, to fighting challenges to the Will, paying the liabilities of the estate, to final distribution of the assets. We will seek your instructions at every stage of the process and undertake what is necessary on your behalf. You can be confident from the beginning to the end of the process that we will take care of everything.
When you have the support of a caring and experienced legal team, you will be able to undertake the task with confidence.
Q: Multiple Wills – Dad had lots of original Wills so which one is the valid Will.
My Dad just died and I have found lots of original Wills in his top draw all leaving different things to different people. Which one is the real Will?
The only valid Will is the last Will made.
BUT – if it can be proved that he was forced to change his last Will against his wishes, or that your Dad was not competent at the time he made the Will (eg. had dementia), then a challenge can be made to the validity of the last Will.
An example may be that all previous Wills left everything equally to each child and then the last Will a few weeks before he died left everything to only one child.
All Wills can be challenged if they do not leave adequate provision for minor and dependants.
Q: How long does probate take?
My Mum just died and my brother is the executor of the Will. I want to know how long it takes to do probate?
It will depend on the number and complexity of assets and liabilities. Also how many executors and beneficiaries there are in the Will.
A simple probate can take anything from 3 – 6 months to complete.
A complex estate can involve the windup of companies and trusts, the sale of property, dissolution of partnerships and partnership entitlements, ascertaining the liabilities including taxation and loan commitments. These can take some considerable time to sort out.
Q: Complicated Will with companies and trusts
My Dad just died recently and his Will says that I am the Executor. He left me a list of all his assets and it is quite complicated with a number of properties, companies and trusts. Where can I get help to unravel the structure he set up and sort out the estate?
You will need to seek the advice of a skilled probate and estates lawyer who can advise you on any number of issues along the way, including selling property and the taxation liabilities of winding up companies and trust unnecessarily.
There may be further complexities where the deceased has been in a partnership or has held directorships and office holdings of companies.
We can assist you in all aspects of the process and are experienced in Probate and Administration law as well as having expertise in business and commercial law. Our firm can undertake all conveyancing matters necessary and can litigate in complex commercial and business transactions if necessary.
Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Probate & Estate Planning Lawyers on +61 3 9500 1722, request a cost estimate, or email us directly.