Most people are aware that when someone passes away their remaining assets, including money, real estate and personal property are distributed in accordance with their Will.  However, many people do not understand what Probate is or when it is needed.

A Grant of Probate authorises an executor to collect the deceased’s assets, pay any outstanding debts and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries under the Will.  It is issued by the Supreme Court of NSW after they have confirmed the validity of a Will. It signals to various financial and asset holding institutions, such as banks, the Land Registry Service and retirement villages, that they are required to transfer or release the assets to the executor.

When is it needed?

A Grant of Probate is not required for every case but instead will depend on the type, size and value of the deceased’s assets.  Each financial institution and asset holder has their own criteria and requirements for dealing with deceased estates. For example, some banks may be willing to release some money after being provided with a copy the Death Certificate and the deceased’s Will but require a Grant of Probate if the money is over a certain amount.

The Application Process

You must be appointed as an executor under the Will and over the age of 18 to be eligible to apply for a Grant of Probate. It needs to be applied for within 6 months of the deceased’s death or an explanation for the delay will need to be provided to the court.  A notice of your intention to apply for a Grant of Probate must be published online 14 days prior to filing your application in Court. The executor is then required to submit a number of forms with accompanying documentation and a filing fee to the Court. The cost of obtaining a Grant of Probate will vary depending on the value of the deceased’s assets and multiple Grants of Probate may be needed if the deceased has assets in different States and Territories.

If you have been appointed as executor of a Will and would like more information or advice on whether a Grant of Probate is required, call WMD Law today on (02) 9525 8688.