Most deceased Estates in Australia go through the process of Probate. It requires the court in each state to be provided with a copy of the Will and information about the Will maker’s assets and liabilities, the witnesses to the Will and the identity of the Executor and Beneficiaries.
Once the court is satisfied, a Grant of Probate is made and the Executor has the official “go ahead” to start distributing assets to the Beneficiaries of a Will.
Institutions like banks, insurance companies, share registries and retirement homes will often refuse to transfer assets, money, shares, payouts and bonds until they’re clear as to who has the legal authority to deal with the assets. A Grant of Probate provides the evidence needed.
Note that the way each institution deals with a deceased Estate often differs, so you can consult with each one on a case-by-case basis to find out what rules they apply and if there are any exceptions.
Obtaining a Grant of Probate is necessary if the Will maker held assets in his or her name only or as tenants-in-common (meaning that they held the assets with another person but each had separate shares).
The exceptions are usually as follows:
After a person dies, the Executor of their Will files an application for Probate to the court.
Wills going through Probate are on the public record and legal notices are published during this time to give people a chance to review, make a claim or challenge the Will.
If you have reason to believe you are included, or have a right to be included in a Will, you can apply to look at it.
The Probate process involves several steps, each with its own timeframe.
There is a 14-day notification period where searches, claims and objections can be made. After this, a formal application is made.
Typically, the Grant of Probate is issued within 5-10 working days (depending on the state or territory) after all the necessary documentation is submitted.
After a Grant of Probate is made the amount of time it takes to distribute assets and funds will depend on a few factors. The size of the Estate, how complex the affairs of the Will maker are and whether the Executor has the help of a legal advisor all factor into it.
You can read more about Probate processes and timeframes in this guide.
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