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Death of a loved one. Estate Planning

Death of a Loved one… What you need to know

Losing a loved one is a traumatic time in your life. Often it will be the hardest thing we deal with in life.

Whether expected or not, it’s never easy. As cliché as it sounds, only time can ease the pain.

Moving forward may seem hard, but it’s likely a plan has been set in place by your spouse to help you along the way.

Is there a will?

Hopefully this is something you discussed in the past. The most important thing for you to know is where is the will stored. If a professional will was made, it’s likely to be stored in safe custody at the law firm that prepared it.

You can contact the firm to find out if they hold the will. Or, if you have your preferred firm, you can organise for the will to be transferred to your preferred firm of solicitors.

What will you need to get access to the original will?

A will is a confidential document. You will need to provide proof of death of the person before you will be able to access their original will. This is usually in the form of a Death Certificate issued by the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

You will also need your own photo identification, such as your drivers license or passport. You will need to be properly identified before you can obtain a copy of the will or uplift the original will.

What if everything was in joint names? Do I still need to do anything?

Most couples will have joint bank accounts and jointly owned property. Once you receive your spouse’s death certificate you can then arrange for joint assets to be transferred into your name.

With bank accounts you will usually need to provide a certified copy of your spouse’s death certificate. The bank will arrange for any joint accounts to be transferred into your name as the surviving owner.

With real estate a notice of death is required. This document needs to be sent to NSW Land Registry Services, together with a certified copy of the death certificate and the certificate of title to your property. Once the notice of death is registered, a new certificate of title will be issued in your name as the surviving owner of the property.

When is a Grant of Probate required and what is it?

A Grant of Probate is an order from the Supreme Court formally appointing the executor of the estate as the legal personal representative of the estate. This is required when there is real estate just in the deceased person’s name rather than in joint names or when there are large sums in bank accounts, superannuation, or shares held just in the deceased person’s name.

If there is a refundable accommodation deposit or accommodation bond held by an aged care facility or nursing home they often will require a Grant of Probate to release any funds payable to the estate.

This sounds expensive!

Of course, there will be fees for this work, which will vary depending upon the complexity of the estate and the value of the assets.

At Sheridan Legal we can provide you with an estimate of our fees once we know the total value of the estate and the type of assets held by the deceased. Most of the estate work we do is based on fixed fees. A fee agreement is supplied at the start of the administration, so there are no nasty surprises.

I have dealt with the will and all estate matters have been dealt with. What now for me?

Now is the time to focus on you and your future. Losing a loved one is listed as 1 of our 10 reasons why now is the right time to update your will. It is important you update your will so your assets go to who you want them to go to.

If you appointed your spouse as your Attorney or Enduring Guardian, then these documents should also be updated so your future is protected.

Call our office today to discuss your current estate matter, or to prepare the documents your family will need to make the transition easier once you’re no longer with them.