Estate and Probate Lawyers Sydney: Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers
Probate & Administration in NSW
In New South Wales, when a person dies, the executor, administrator or legal personal representative of the deceased estate is usually required to apply for Probate or Letters of Administration and comply with the applicable succession and estate laws before distributing the estate to the beneficiaries. Each State and Territory of Australia has their own requirements and processes.
How to Apply for Probate in NSW
In NSW, it is the executor’s responsibility to apply for a grant of probate with the Supreme Court. The executor should apply for probate within six months from the date of death of the deceased, where reasonably practicable.
Applying for Letters of Administration When There is No Will
Where a person dies without a valid will – they are referred to as having died ‘intestate’.
Where a person dies intestate, as there is no valid will, there will be no executor. In these circumstances, a person (often the next of kin) may need to apply for Letters of Administration, which, if granted, will give that person the power to administer the estate.
In NSW, an intestate estate is distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy set out in the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), which prescribe a cascading order of entitlement from specific classes of close relatives through to more distant relatives and ultimately, the State where there are no living relatives.
How A Probate Law Firm Can Help
Tax Advice and Financial Planning Services
Contacting an experienced estate lawyer in Sydney when you are dealing with a loved one’s probate can help make the probate process more cost-effective. An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you on whether or not and when to sell assets falling within the deceased estate and the tax consequences. The timing of the sale or transfer may result in different tax consequences and a lawyer can provide a range of legal options and scenarios for you to consider.
Applying for Probate
Applying for probate can be an incredibly stressful time, particularly since you are likely dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. You can gain peace of mind that the complexities associated with this process, including gathering of relevant documents, preparing court documents, and lodging the application with the Supreme Court, are dealt with instead by specialist, experienced lawyers.
Estate administration can involve many steps, including but not limited to identifying debts and assets, communicating with third parties and government agencies, identifying and locating beneficiaries, and resolving disagreements between those beneficiaries. A lawyer can help you navigate this process, including preparing all correspondence and providing advice and assistance along the way.
An experienced probate lawyer is best placed to help resolve the issue of a person dying without a valid will. In these situations, who is entitled to a share of the estate will depend on the person’s relationship to the deceased and the operation of the rules of intestacy.
Estate Disputes and Litigation
The administration of an estate is not always a straightforward process. One or more people may contest the deceased’s will (formally known as a family provision claim), if they feel they have not been adequately provided for in the deceased’s will. For instance, a former spouse may contest a will where there has been no prior family law settlement.
If you are an executor of an estate that is being contested or challenged, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible as you will have responsibility of defending the claim and an experienced probate lawyer will be able to provide a thorough analysis of the situation and advise you on the strength of the person’s claim and ways to defend or resolve the claim.
Similarly, an experienced probate lawyer can also advise on options for alternative dispute resolution with the aim of avoiding lengthy and costly court proceedings. Most disagreements can be resolved through negotiations and mediation. Where they cannot be resolved, the matter may proceed to court and require a barrister to be briefed.
During the later stages of estate administration, the representative of the estate will arrange for distribution of the estate in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s last valid will or where there is no valid will in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
This may involve the transfer of property or other assets (collectables, cars, personal possessions etc.) directly to those entitled or cash distributions. It will depend on the nature of the estate and the terms of the will (or rules of intestacy).
Executor Support and Guidance
At Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers, our team of attorneys and lawyers are compassionate and strive for excellence, always acting in the best interests of our clients. We’re here to help you through the difficult time of grieving the death of a loved one whilst also taking on the responsibility of being the estate’s representative.
Simplifying the Probate Process with Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers
Step 1: Initial Consultation and Review
Our lawyers will schedule a free initial consultation with you. This is an opportunity for you to tell us about your legal issue and objectives. We will ask you questions to obtain a detailed understanding of the matter to determine whether we can assist and if so, how.
Step 2: Will Validation and Probate Application
Once the deceased’s last will has been located, we can assist the named executor to apply for and secure a grant of probate for that will.
If there is no will, we can assist the next of kin or closest relative in applying for a grant of administration.
Step 3: Estate Administration
Our lawyers can assist with all steps in the estate administration process, including identifying debts and assets, communicating with third parties and government agencies, identifying and locating those who are entitled under the will, and resolving disagreements between them.
Step 4: Estate Distribution
Once the matter advances to the stage where distributions may be made, our lawyers can assist with making distributions.
Distribution may involve the transfer of property or other assets directly to those entitled or cash distribution. It will depend on the nature of the estate and the terms of the will (or rules of intestacy).
Step 5: Tax Advice
Our lawyers can also provide the estate’s legal representative with tax advice with a view to minimising tax on the estate to preserve a greater share of the estate for the beneficiaries.
Step 6: Dispute Resolution
Our lawyers can also assist with defending claims against the estate. A disappointed beneficiary may decide to contest or challenge the will in an attempt to obtain a larger share of the estate.
We can assist with defending or resolving claims and reaching a settlement that is both efficient and cost-effective.
Can A Probate Lawyer Help with Wills and Estate Planning and Preparing an Estate Plan
An experienced lawyer can help protect your hard-earned assets for future generations by providing estate planning legal services, creating a will that is legally binding, and advising on tax-effective strategies (such as testamentary trusts).
Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers Sydney: Your Trusted Estate Dispute Lawyers
We work hard to provide outstanding legal work to all our clients. We offer tailored fee structures to ensure accessibility to all. With a comprehensive legal understanding of all matters involving wills and estates, we can provide legal representation to various parties involved in estate and probate matters, such as executors, administrators, the next of kin of the deceased person, or those seeking to contest or challenge a will.
Contact Us today to Schedule a Client Conference with Our Expert Solicitors
Our lawyers specialise in probate and estate disputes. Book a free appointment today – we offer free initial consultations for those who need help navigating the probate process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Role of a Probate Lawyer in Estate Administration?
The process is often a complicated one, compounded with the emotional turmoil of the recent loss of a loved one. Having a lawyer on your side provides peace of mind that everything is conducted professionally and efficiently, giving you more time to focus on yourself.
How Long Does the Probate Process Take in Sydney, NSW?
The length of the probate process will depend on many factors, including the size and nature of the estate and any disputes.
One of the first steps involves the executor applying for probate. Where practicable, they should apply for probate within 6 months from the deceased’s date of death.
Once the application for probate has been lodged, it may take 1-3 months for the court to issue a grant or longer if the court registry issues requisitions.
Once a grant of probate has been issued, the administration of the estate may take a further 6-12 months or more, depending on many factors.
Therefore, the whole estate process can take 9-18 months or longer, depending on the circumstances.
Do I Always Need a Probate Lawyer When a Family Member Passes Away?
If, as an executor or administrator, you fail to administer the estate correctly, you may be personally liable to repay or compensate the estate or the beneficiaries. It is, therefore highly advisable you contact a lawyer, especially when a large asset such as a house or commercial property needs to be transferred.
What Happens if There is No Will? How can a Probate Lawyer Assist?
Dying without a will is not an ideal situation. This is why you should ensure you have an up-to-date and legally binding will. However, in situations where someone does die without a valid will, lawyers can assist the person who is most likely to benefit from the will (i.e. the next of kin) understand the process, and have the estate administered according to the rules of intestacy.
It’s important to engage a lawyer in these situations because disputes can easily arise if there are multiple parties who think they should be appointed as administrator of an estate without a valid will. This dispute must be resolved before the distribution of the estate takes place.
Can a Probate Law Firm Help if There’s a Dispute About the Will?
A person can leave their assets to anyone they choose when they die – this is referred to as “testamentary freedom.”
In some circumstances, however, the law can interfere with the deceased’s testamentary freedom and effectively rewrite the terms of the deceased’s will by altering the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
Claims against a deceased estate where the will is contested or challenged are a common part of succession law. If not quickly and thoroughly addressed, these disputes can lead to significant costs and lengthy delays, with the potential for litigation in court.
Whether you’re an executor looking to defend a claim made against an estate, or believe you are entitled to a greater share of an estate, Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers can act on your behalf.