After someone dies, it can be a number of months before the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
If a Grant of Probate is necessary, the Supreme Court needs to be informed of the current assets and liabilities of the deceased before probate can occur.
Therefore the first step is to ascertain from each individual organisation where money or assets are held and request current asset balances. It may take a number of weeks to receive this information.
Additionally, the Probate application cannot be prepared until the original Death Certificate has arrived and the intention to obtain Probate must also be advertised on the Supreme Court website 14 days prior to submitting the application.
The Supreme Court may then take a further 2-3 weeks to process the Probate application.
Once the Grant of Probate parchment has been returned, the administration process can begin. Assets such as bank accounts or nursing home accommodation bonds may take around 2-3 weeks to release to the Estate; however if there is a death benefit payable from a superfund for example, this may take significantly longer. There are a number of other factors which may stretch out the administration time:
- If there is a property which needs to be sold, this may take months to finalise.
- If there are shares to be sold, timing may be crucial, depending on the current state of the market.
- Personal or Estate tax returns may be required, which cannot be completed until the end of the financial year.
- There may be unknown assets which continue to emerge.
In these instances, the Executor may elect to make an interim distribution of funds already received (such as bank accounts), and a final distribution once all assets are finalised.
6 month time limit
Under the Administration and Probate Act there is a period of 6 months once Probate (or Letters of Administration, if there was no Will) is granted in which claims can be made on an Estate. If there is minimal risk of claims then interim distributions can be made, however if there is risk, it is advisable to wait 6 months before distributing any money.
If the Estate is relatively small and a Grant of Probate is not required, finalising the Estate can be a lot quicker, as the organisations may only request to see the Will and Death Certificate.
Overall, the process of administering an Estate is often longer than beneficiaries may realise. Some assets can be complicated and time consuming to finalise, therefore it may take months before an Estate can be fully administered, and significantly longer for complex estates. OFRM can answer any questions you might have about Probate and guide you through the process.