Following the death of a loved one or relative, it usually falls upon members of the family to take the necessary steps to deal with the estate of the deceased. Often the family has not previously encountered this situation. Therefore, I have set out a brief overview as to what usually occurs following the death of a loved one.
The first step is generally to contact a funeral director. The funeral director will make all the necessary funeral arrangements. Importantly, following the funeral, the funeral director will generally make application for a Death Certificate and, if applicable, will notify Centrelink. If the deceased is receiving Centrelink payments, at the time of his or her death, then Centrelink will make one final payment into the nominated account and then close the Centrelink account.
Once the Death Certificate issues, it will be provided to the next of kin of the deceased. It is at that stage that legal advice should be sought regarding the need, or otherwise, to obtain a Grant of Probate.
If the deceased left a Will, generally speaking, a copy will be located amongst the personal papers of the deceased. If a copy cannot be located, inquiries should be made of the solicitors who usually acted for the deceased, if those details are known. If the deceased left a Will, then, on and from the time of the deceased's death, the property of the deceased falls within the control of the executor or executors named in the Will. It is the executor or executors who are require to make an application for Probate, if such an application is required. The need, or otherwise, to make an application for Probate, will depend upon the nature and value of the estate. Probate is simply an Order of the Supreme Court authorising executors to realise the assets of the estate and then to distribute the estate in accordance with the requirements of the Will.
In the event that the deceased did not leave a Will, legal advice should be sought as to the need, or otherwise, for the next of kin of the deceased to make application to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration operate similarly to Probate in that they authorise the legal personal representative of the deceased to realise the estate and to distribute the estate in accordance with the laws of intestacy.
Therefore, in a nutshell, following the death of a loved one, the will should be located, the funeral arrangements made, and once a Death Certificate is received, it is very sensible to attend upon a solicitor to seek further advice and assistance.
For further assistance contact:
Rod Pogson, Solicitor
02 6025 8255
Dione Garwell, Solicitor
02 6025 8255