6 min read

What is the Point of Probate?

Probate comes with costs and delays to the distribution of an estate. But, more than that, it also comes with protection, peace of mind and accountability to ensure things are done right. Read on to find out what happens in probate and why it matters for deceased estates.

Probate process

Probate process

Probate can feel like an unnecessary slog at the worst of times. With paperwork, courts, legal admin and fees- it can quickly become a source of stress and delays for everyone involved.

From beneficiaries set to inherit assets from the deceased estate, to executors dealing with the paperwork, probate can affect everyone. But with so much time, money and stress going into the process…is it really necessary, and is there actually a point?

Read on to cover the ins and outs of this important administrative process; learning why probate happens, and what you can stand to gain.

What is Probate?

Probate isn’t just any usual legal procedure. Going through the supreme courts, it's a process which confirms the validity of a deceased person's Will, and grants authority to the executor.

With this approval, the executor can then manage the estate, distribute assets and carry out the deceased wishes.

What Happens in Probate?

Okay, so probate is the necessary hurdle to validate the Will. It’s the green pass to carry out wishes, and take ownership of the deceased’s estate.

But what actually happens during the probate process , and why does it take so long?

  1. Validating the Will:

The first step involves establishing the validity of the deceased person's Will. The executor named in the Will submits the document to the Supreme Court of the respective state, along with a probate application.

The court then reviews the Will to ensure it meets the legal requirements- ensuring it’s signed, witnessed and passed of all concerns over capacity and coercion.

2. Appointment of Executor:

With the Will considered valid, the court then appoints the executor to carry out its wishes. Whilst they’ll already have been in the Will, this stage grants them the authority to manage and distribute assets in the estate.

3. Notification of Creditors and Beneficiaries:

The executor notifies known creditors of the deceased person's passing, allowing them to come forward and make any outstanding claims.

Additionally, the executor informs the beneficiaries named in the Will about the probate process and their entitlement to the estate. Open communication and transparency is a key component of this role, and it kicks off right from the get go.

4. Asset Valuation and Inventory:

The executor conducts a comprehensive assessment of the deceased person's assets- including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and any other valuable possessions.

Whilst these should have been listed in the Will, this confirms the total value of the estate before debts and taxes are due.

5. Payment of Debts and Taxes:

The executor identifies and pays any outstanding debts on the deceased’s estate; such as mortgages, loans, credit card bills, and utility bills.

This stage also uses funds in the estate for any owed taxes using - covering income and inheritance tax obligations.

6. Distribution of Assets:

Once all debts and taxes have been settled, the executor proceeds with distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as specified in the Will. This may involve transferring property titles, transferring funds from bank accounts, or distributing personal belongings according to the deceased person's wishes.

7. Final Accounting and Reporting:

The executor prepares a final accounting of all financial transactions related to the probate process. This leaves a papertrail of their work, and protects their legal obligation to have distributed the estate fairly. From documenting all income, noting all expenses, and leaving comment on distributions made from the estate- the executor is required to submit this accounting to the court for review and approval.

8. Closing the Estate:

After the court approves the final accounting and confirms that all necessary steps have been taken, the estate is considered settled. The executor concludes the probate process by providing a final report to the supreme court, which outlines the actions taken, the distributions made, and any remaining funds or assets.

Is every probate process the same?

Much like every estate, the probate process differs from person to person. Factors like the complexity or size of the estate, presence of disputes or challenges to the Will, can all affect the efficiency of the court process.

Especially in these cases, executors are advised to seek legal guidance whilst navigating the process- ensuring they comply with legal requirements, and complete the process efficiently.

Why is Probate Necessary?

The wishes left in a Will carry significant weight. From deciding who gets what, to what's sold and how leftover funds are invested- it’s important that the intentions of the Will maker are legally sound.

Ensuring the Will is valid provides a safety net against undue influence on a vulnerable Will maker, as well as provides accountability for fraud in how the Will is executed.

This can minimise potential for disputes, and create legal protection for the wishes of the deceased once validated.

From an external perspective, probate also protects the right of creditors. In ensuring that debts are settled before assets are distributed, probate provides a structured framework for the settlement of debts and personal liability of the executor.

Benefits of Probate

Yes, at the time this process can feel like a pain. But as an important part of estate administration, it also has several benefits.

Firstly, probate provides peace of mind to the Will maker that their estate will be distributed according to their wishes, and their final wishes carried out.

Beneficiaries are also left with a fair and transparent distribution process, disputes are minimised and executors are provided legal protection in their duties.

To Wrap Up

You only get one shot at fulfilling end of life wishes. As an executor, probate provides a roadmap and timeframe to help ensure you get it right. And, whilst for beneficiaries probate can create delays- it also creates a smoother process which ensures the deceased’s assets and wishes are fully fulfilled.

How Safewill can help

Safewill provides the easiest, most affordable and convenient way to write your Will. More than that, our specialist team of lawyers provide tailored advice to help you prepare, or at your time of need.

Get help on probate or write your Will today, by reaching out on 1800 103 310 , or via live chat now.

Last updated 07th July 2023
1 D69 B666 12 C4 4 E1 A B9 D0 A98325 C7 A6 B9 4 5005 c
Hannah Comiskey
For Charities
FAQs Blog
The best way to contact our Customer Care team is via our
Call us at
1800 10 33 10
Safewill acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.
Safewill is an online service providing streamlined forms and information. Safewill is not a law firm or a substitute for a lawyer’s advice about complex estate planning issues.