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Executor and estate administering

How to deal with an estate as the executor

When someone passes away, there are a number of steps the executor/s need to take in order to administer the estate.

What is an executor?

The executor/s are named in the will and are usually a close family member, friend or solicitor whom the deceased felt would be capable of the important task of administering their estate.

Your role is to be the legal representative on the deceased’s behalf. To ensure the assets of the deceased go to the nominated beneficiaries as per their wishes.

Death Certificate.

A death certificate is required to formally proceed with any estate matter.

The death certificate is issued within a few weeks of application from Births Deaths and Marriages.

Once the death certificate arrives, the executor/s of the estate will need to take steps to administer the estate. The first step is to make an appointment with a solicitor to discuss the contents of the will.


How do you know if a Grant of Probate is required? It’s all in the assets.

A Grant of Probate is NOT required if the deceased left very few assets, such as:
• Small bank accounts:
• Motor vehicle; and
• The contents of a home.

These are considered small assets and the estate can be dealt with without having to apply for a Grant of Probate.

A Grant of Probate IS required if the deceased left behind:
• Real estate; or
• Large shareholdings; or
• A large sum in a bank account.

In this case, the executor/s will need to apply for a Grant of Probate to deal with the deceased estate.

Probate Notice.

In order to apply for a Grant of Probate, the solicitor will need to publish a probate notice on the Supreme Court website.

This notice notifies the general public that a person has passed away. If anyone was owed any money by the deceased they need to contact the firm of solicitors handling the estate.

This notice must be published at least 14 days before an application for a Grant of Probate can be made.

Grant of Probate.

In order to make the application for a Grant of Probate to the Supreme Court, the executor will need to sign an affidavit.

Included in the affidavit is:
• A list of all the deceased’s assets and liabilities;
• The original death certificate;
• The original will; and
• A list of all the beneficiaries.

This document is filed with the Supreme Court.  It usually takes about 6 weeks for the Supreme Court to process the application.

Once Probate is granted.

The executor/s are able to arrange for any property to be transferred into their name if it is to be sold.

If the property is to be retained by the beneficiaries, the property can be transferred into the names of the beneficiaries.

Bank accounts can be closed, shares can be sold and other personal property such as cars, caravans and the like can be transferred to nominated beneficiaries or sold.

Once all the assets have been sold or transferred, any outstanding accounts can be paid.

The balance left over can then be distributed amongst the beneficiaries named in the will.

On average, the process can take somewhere between 3 and 6 months depending on the complexity of the deceased estate. If you need further information about administering an estate or your role as an executor, please contact us.