The period surrounding the loss of a loved one is inevitably a difficult time. When you want everyone to grieve, administering a Deceased Estate can be seriously challenging.
Keeping this in mind, we have put together a guide to help walk you through the basic steps involved in operating a Deceased Estate:
Determine if the Deceased has Left a Will
The first step is to determine whether the deceased has actually Making A Wills. They may also be involved with the deceased’s personal papers, along with their lawyer, their bank or possibly their building society.
If there is a Will, he will usually appoint one or more persons as prosecutors. It is the prosecutor’s role to Deceased Estate Administration, so if you are not a person appointed as a prosecutor, you should advise the prosecutor of their appointment as soon as possible.
If you are unable to locate a Will, it is important to seek legal advice on who will be the most appropriate person / persons to administer the estate of the deceased.
The first step in administering a Deceased Estate is the funeral.
If the deceased has left a will, it may specify their wishes regarding funeral arrangements. On a similar note, it is important to check the personal papers of the deceased, as they may have thought ahead and bought a pre-paid funeral plan.
If there is no pre-paid funeral plan (or there is, but it does not cover the full cost of the funeral), you can take an invoice from the funeral home to the deceased’s bank and request that They should arrange payment from the bank of the deceased.
Get Death Certificate
Obtaining the death certificate of the deceased is important in administering the deceased’s property. The funeral director will usually assist you in submitting the appropriate form to obtain the death certificate. It can take 2 to 6 weeks for the death certificate to be issued.
Identify the Assets and Liabilities of the Deceased
The next step to administer a Deceased Estate is to identify the assets and liabilities of the deceased.
Carefully look at the personal papers of the deceased to get a description of his personal property. It is important to note that this may include property held solely in their name, as well as property held jointly with other parties. The deceased’s assets may include immovable property, bank accounts, shares, and superannuation and life insurance policies.
Similarly, you should check to see if the deceased has no money.
Apply For A Grant of Probate (If Necessary)
Depending on the deceased’s estate, you may have to apply to the Supreme Court of SA for a Grant of Probate to administer the Deceased Estate. A Grant of Probate is a document issued by the Supreme Court that confirms both the appointment of the executor, and the most recent will of the deceased. If the deceased died without a will (or in some other circumstances) it may be necessary to apply for a letter of administration instead of a grant of probate.
Generally, a probate of grant is not required if all of the deceased’s assets are jointly with another person (more often than not, their spouse). If the deceased has immovable property in excess of a certain value or property in their sole name, a grant of probate will be required.
Ideally, an application for grant of probate or letter of administration should be submitted to the Supreme Court within 6 months of the date of death. If it is presented after 6 months, the court will need an explanation for the delay in the application.
Gathered In the Estate of the Deceased
Once you have a probate or letter of administration, the next step in administering the Deceased Estate is to collect all of the deceased’s property.
Depending on the assets owned by the deceased at the time of his death, this may include closing his bank accounts, obtaining any death benefits payable under the superman policies of the deceased, depositing the proceeds of life insurance policies, either selling real estate or May involve relocating. Concerned beneficiaries and so on are either selling shares or transferring those shares to beneficiaries.
Ensure That Debts of the Deceased Are Discharged and Tax Matters Are Dealt With
Once the deceased’s assets are collected, you will need to ensure that any debt owed by the deceased is repaid.
You must also ensure that the deceased is up to the date of lifetime tax cases. If the deceased has filed a tax return, this means that all tax returns are credited to the date of death, and that any income tax owed to the Australian Taxation Office is paid.
Depending on the assets of the property, the property itself may also have to pay tax. If this is the case, a property tax return will have to be filed and any tax paid.
Distribute the Balance of Assets to the Beneficiaries
Once you are sure that all outstanding debts and taxes have been paid, you can distribute the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries as per the deceased’s wishes. If there is no will, Jackson & Associates Solicitors will be able to advise you who the beneficiaries of the property will be according to the relevant law.