When a loved one dies
there are so many more important things to focus on than tackling the paperwork and other administrative tasks required to settle the deceased’s legal affairs and the distribution of a deceased estate.
Sadly, however, the task of administering the estate must be done sooner or later.
Many everyday Australians die without having made a will, let alone having considered what should happen to assets that may not necessarily be covered by their will. Even where a will has been made, it might be open to attack for a number of reasons.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now or worried about where you’re going to find the time to deal with the legal process, know that this is completely normal and that we’re here to help.
The aim of our estate administration services is to help tame the sense of overwhelm you might be feeling as you face the legal landscape in the aftermath of your loss.
Hi, I’m Zinta Harris,
the founder of Resolve Estate Law.
I have been helping families just like yours administer estates for over 25 years, so I know this is not an easy road you’re travelling.
As a dual accredited specialist in succession law and business law I have handled both simple and complex estate administrations.
Whatever your circumstance, my team and I are committed to making your estate administration less stressful, so you can focus on what is more important to you at this difficult time.
Over the years I’ve seen people cope with this process in many different ways.
Some are very overwhelmed by the experience, struggling to think straight. In the face of grief it is normal to feel like you can’t read properly or face legal paperwork. You need someone to chat with you on the phone or to meet with you, taking care of all the paperwork so that you don’t feel burdened with it.
Others cope okay emotionally, but are simply time poor and don’t have the bandwidth to try and do this process themselves, let alone the legal expertise to ensure they have done everything correctly to avoid personal liability issues. We can help you by taking this process off your hands and finalising it in an efficient, timely manner.
Some may wish to get help with the probate or letters of administration but are then happy to do the administration themselves. We can do this part of the process and ensure you feel empowered to do your administration process yourself with ease.
Whatever your story, we can assist you and work with you to ensure your estate administration process is as painless, calm and efficient as possible.
Your first steps
Funeral arrangements and ordering the death certificate.
Other emergency steps e.g. care of minor children and other dependants, housing pets, securing and insuring properties, ongoing management of businesses.
Search for any will including any informal wills, (which might be e.g. on a phone, on a computer, a handwritten note, a video recording etc) and the will should be checked carefully (but not otherwise unstapled, or marked, or folded).
These steps are usually taken by the person named as executor in any will or the deceased’s next of kin once they have decided to take on the responsibilities of the administration.
Once these preliminary steps are taken there is no urgency to administer the estate immediately although it should be done in a timely manner.
Our free ebook “I am named Executor – now what?” covers each of these points in detail.
What counts as a Will?
If statistics are anything to go by, then chances are that your loved one may not have prepared a formal will. If they did, it might have been done a long time ago and may not have been updated with changed circumstances. Sometimes, people (knowingly or unknowingly) make an ‘informal will’.
So what does an informal will look like?
Here are some examples of informal wills in recent Queensland history: an unsigned electronic document found on a computer, a note on an iPad, an unsent text found on a phone near a man who took his own life, a tape recording of last wishes and a video will made on a smartphone.
Our free ebook “I Can’t Find a Will — Now What?” will give you tips on how to search for a will or informal will and what to do if you can’t find either.
If you’ve been named as the executor
If you are the named executor of a will or if you are the first person entitled to apply for Letters of Administration – that doesn’t mean you MUST take on the role. Finding out what the roles and responsibilities are before taking on the role is also important because you could be personally liable if you don’t do things properly.
We can advise you on the responsibilities to help you decide who should take on the role. We can help you continue in the role with our legal advice so that you don’t put a foot wrong, or we can take on the administration for you.
Probate and estate administration
There may or may not be a need to apply to the court for a grant in order to finalise the distribution of a deceased estate. When there is a will this is called a ‘probate’. When there is no will this is called ‘letters of administration’.
Working out whether or not you need a grant is important. The easiest way to determine this is to give us a call. We’ll have a complimentary discussion of your situation and advise you on whether you need to apply.
Call us today on (07) 3371 0795
Our Client’s Experience
The sudden death of my husband was devastating.
With a broken heart, I was overwhelmed with “death admin”, what to do next and didn’t really know where to start. I really didn’t, and to a degree still don’t have the emotional capacity to do very much at all. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Zinta gently offered her expert help, quietly guiding me through what needed to be done, prioritising important things and helping me avoid unnecessary paperwork and expenses.
Zinta and her team are the ultimate professionals who shared my pain, expertly, calmly and gently guiding me through an otherwise complicated and unkind process.
I have not needed to ever engage a lawyer, so I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had not lost someone close to me before. I was heart broken and limping along in all facets of my life.
Zinta helped me navigate several complex legal issues, including avoiding probate, which several other professionals said simply couldn’t be done.
Zinta saved me significant time and money. At a time when my grief was all consuming, Zinta knew exactly what to do, at the right time, finding the right person and knowing the right thing to say and the short cuts available to me. I am extremely grateful for her tenacity, for not taking no for an answer. Without her I would have been pushed around by death administrators. Without Zinta’s expert help and advice, I would still be muddling my way through my husband’s death admin paperwork.
Where other solicitors might have said “it is not possible” Zinta had a client-focused approach, putting me at the centre of everything she did. Time and time again Zinta has showed me profound kindness. Zinta went above and beyond what I would have expected from my solicitor. I highly recommend Zinta and her team. I wish I never needed her, but I am so grateful that I had her.
T. C, Estate Administration Client, Brisbane
The process if you do need a grant
If a grant is needed then the next steps are advertising the intended application and then making the application to court.
Once the grant is obtained then the estate must be administered (the assets called in and liabilities paid out) before it can be distributed to the beneficiaries (although this should not be done until after 6 months from the date of death to allow time for notices of any claims or challenges against the estate to be made).
Want to learn more? Download our Executors Checklist PDF Free.
Your next steps
Call us today to discuss your estate administration needs.
Fill out the contact form below for a 15-minute complimentary discussion of your unique situation and what your responsibilities are.